Monday, December 10, 2012

Terminal renovation to make way for more big birds

Another terminal at Bush Intercontinental Airport is in for a major rejuvenation, including new gates designed to service the world's largest commercial passenger jet.

Sometime in the first three months of next year, the Houston Airport System will bid out the design for an overhaul of the international Terminal D, which it will pay for with a combination of its own revenue and federal grants.

Last year, the city of Houston and the Airport System announced a partnership with United Continental Holdings, the parent company of United Airlines, for a $1 billion renovation of Terminal B at Intercontinental, the city's largest airport.

The Terminal D project calls for revamping 11 gates, including three to handle the double-decker Airbus A380, which German carrier Lufthansa brought to Bush Intercontinental for the first time in August to fly its daily nonstop between Houston and Frankfurt.

The airport system hustled earlier this year to revamp Terminal D's Gate 12 to prepare for the Lufthansa jumbo jet's arrival. That involved installing a special jet bridge to reach the A380's full-length upper and lower decks.

Three other foreign airlines with service at Bush - Singapore Airlines, Emirates and Air France - also own A380s. British Airways and Qatar Airways have the big planes on order. But none has announced A380 service to Houston or Texas - yet.