1940 Air Terminal Museum blog

Happy Birthday to Southwest Airlines and Hobby Airport on their 40th Anniversary of joint Service!

Monday, November 14, 2011
Filed under: Blog entry (Home Page) by Blair

Initally, Southwest Airlines began their flying service on June 18th, 1971 on routes that were entirely intrastate, flying the Texas Triangle. First service to Houston was to the still new Intercontinental Airport, KIAH. However, SWA would shortly make one of their famous decisions that would forever change the nature of airline service in the future, and change how Houston used it’s airports.

After IAH opened in 1969 the city’s old airport, Hobby Airport (KHOU), sat deserted and increasingly forlorn. Left to the various FBOs and charter outfits, it was hardly being used and was a drain on the tax coffers of the City of Houston.

Meanwhile at IAH, SWA saw considerable competition from it’s arch-rivals Braniff and Texas International. Frustrated and losing money, SWA flew the coop at IAH and set up camp at HOU – having the entire airport to itself! SWA and their passengers quickly found that the quiet, close in airport was a relief from the long trip to the “big” airport and it’s congestion.

First SWA service to and from their new gates at Hobby Airport was on November 14th, 1971, just five months after their initial start up at IAH. Hence, the Happy Anniversary to both SWA and Hobby Airport!

In a series of photos provided by SWA we can see their initial ticket counter which was located inside the 1948 International Arrivals Building, located adjacent to the 1940 Air Terminal on the west side of Hobby Airport.

SWA would eventually settle into the “A” Concourse in the main terminal at Hobby Airport after renovations had been made, in 1974.
The rest of the story is now history!

Now both SWA and the City Of Houston benefit from the close in versatility of Hobby Airport, making it an important part of the SWA route system and a star for the Houston Airport System. Currently 87% of all airline traffic at Hobby Airport is performed by Southwest Airlines.

Michael Bludworth
1940 Air Terminal Museum