The Houston City Council this week approved $250 million for Southwest Airlines' much-anticipated expansion at Hobby Airport.

What's included: The expansion will include improvements to the airport’s eight-year-old West Concourse as well as the baggage claim area and baggage handling system. Increased flight demand through Hobby is the reason for the expansion.

The $250 million now approved is about half of the total project cost, now estimated at $470 million. The Houston Airport System will go back to City Council in 2024 for the additional appropriation. Construction is expected to begin early next year and take two years to complete.

The project will include an additional seven gates that will accommodate both domestic and international flights.

According to a release, the expansion of the West Concourse will be a natural continuation of modern design, natural light and “Houston Friendly” ambiance with additional space for more restaurants, retail and art.

What they're saying: “We appreciate the City of Houston’s longstanding support of Southwest as we continue expanding our service from Hobby Airport,” said Steve Sisneros, Vice President of Airport Affairs for Southwest Airlines. “We look forward to working together with the City and Houston Airports to bring this expansion project to fruition over the next few years.

The background: Passenger traffic at Hobby rose 8.4% in the first half of 2023 compared with the same period last year. Southwest Airlines is the second largest carrier operating out of Houston airports with 6.8 million passengers in the first half of 2023, up 7% year-over-year. Southwest employs more than 5,000 people in Houston, with a majority based at Hobby Airport.

Hobby supports 83 destinations serviced by five passenger airlines: Allegiant, American, Delta, Frontier and Southwest.

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