The Houston Airport System’s (HAS) record-setting passenger numbers in 2014 was boosted by an all-time high in the volume of international travelers — and leading the way in that world-wide parade is the ever-growing service to Latin American markets.
International passenger totals at George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) reached more than 9.8 million in 2014 — a number never before reached in the 46 year history of the facility — and more than half of that total came from service to destinations in Mexico, Central America and the Bahamas.
Nearly 6 million passengers flew in and out of IAH to Latin American destinations, easily eclipsing the 5.5 million traveling to those destinations in 2013.
Already recognized as a leading international gateway, Bush Intercontinental — which offers service to more Mexican destinations than any other U.S. airport — has seen its total number of international travelers heading to Latin American destinations increase from 3.8 million in 2001 to the record-setting total in 2014.
“Houston already enjoys greater connectivity with Mexico than any other country in the United States and that bond is going to be even stronger,” Aviation Director Mario C. Diaz said. “The Latin American market is very important to the Houston region for both economic and cultural reasons, and this continued growth makes it easier for our passengers to strengthen business ties and maintain close connections with family and friends.”
Eight new international passenger carriers either launched or announced Houston service at IAH and William P. Hobby Airport (HOU) between January 2014 and January 2015. Among the highlights were:
– Interjet landed at Bush Intercontinental in October 2014, beginning nonstop service to Monterrey, Mexico.
– In November 2014, AeroMexico added nonstop service to Monterrey, Mexico.
– Spirit Airlines announced the additions of nonstop service to 10 new destinations out of Bush Intercontinental beginning in spring 2015, including seven to Latin American locations.
– Late 2014, VivaAerobus added nonstop service to Cancun and Guadalajara, Mexico, while United Airlines added nonstop service to both Santiago, Chile, and Punta Canta, Domincan Republic.
– Southwest Airlines will operate its first international flight at Hobby Airport this month when it flies to Aruba, and later in 2015 the airline plans to open six international destinations, including Cancun, Puerta Vallarta, Los Cabos and Mexico City in Mexico, as well as Belize City, Belize and San Jose, Costa Rica.
– Volaris will come to Bush Intercontinental when it begins nonstop service to Guadalajara, Mexico, later this month.
– Vacation Express will begin nonstop seasonal service to Freeport, Grand Bahama in May 2015.
– United Airlines will begin nonstop service to Providenciales, Turks and Caicos and St. Thomas, Virgin Islands in June 2015.
That momentum will gain even more speed later this year when the new international terminal at Hobby Airport opens. Through a partnership with Southwest Airlines, a new $156 million five-gate facility will accommodate regional international flights to various locations across Latin America.
Source: Houston Airport System, http://www.fly2houston.com