Continental Airlines Breaks Ground On A $350 Million International Expansion Program

Continental Airlines’ (NYSE: CAL and CAL.A) Chairman and CEO Gordon Bethune and Houston Mayor Lee Brown today broke ground on a new $350 million expansion project, including a state-of-the-art international terminal, at Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH). Terminal E, opening summer of 2003, is the single largest facility expansion at IAH in 20 years. It also is the first new terminal to be built on the airport since Terminal D (the Mickey Leland International Airlines Building) opened in 1990.

Located south of Terminal D, the 550,000-square-foot, glass-atrium terminal will contain 15 to 20 new gates that will accommodate both domestic and international flights, an expanded baggage claim area, a 15,000-square-foot Presidents Club and a wide assortment of brand-name retail shops and concessions. Continental will also have a separate check-in area for all international flights, located at the new Federal Inspection Service (FIS) facility, that will be built between Terminal E and the existing Terminal D. The Houston Airport System will be responsible for construction of the FIS building.

“When it’s all said and done, Houston will have a world-class international facility that will meet passenger demand well into the future,” said Continental Airlines Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Gordon Bethune at the groundbreaking ceremony. “This substantial investment will guarantee the continued growth and prosperity of our Houston hub.”

Terminal E - Design and Scope

Terminal E supersedes its predecessor, Terminal D, in size, amenities and architectural detail. Emphasis has been placed on natural lighting, to give the new terminal a bright, airy environment that will be pleasant for passengers and employees alike. Movement through the terminal will be streamlined with larger gate areas and plenty of moving sidewalks. Continental’s award-winning concession program, recently unveiled at its Newark hub, will be introduced to IAH at Terminal E.
To accommodate Continental’s burgeoning international traffic, new gates will be phased-in beginning as early as December 2002, with completion expected in mid-2003. Initially, the new gates in Terminal E will be used to grow Continental’s domestic operations while the Airport completes construction of the new FIS facility, scheduled to open in 2004. The new FIS will then be able to handle up to 4,000 arriving international passengers per hour, versus 2,500 per hour currently.


To complement the new Terminal E, the Airport is developing a new parallel runway, which will be operational in 2003. The Airport will also add 2,500 new parking spaces and connect the automated train, TerminaLink, to the new international facilities from Terminal C.

Continental’s Investment

Continental is investing $350 million in the Houston hub. Terminal E, which will cost the airline $240 million to build, makes up the lion’s-share of this investment. Construction associated with the new terminal and other support facilities, such as a new 120,000-square-foot airline cargo building and upgrades to the Chelsea flight kitchen, will make up the remaining $110 million.
New Jobs

As with any major capital improvement project, a string of new jobs is generated. Terminal E is expected to create approximately 600 new construction jobs and approximately 4,000 permanent new airline jobs, bringing Continental’s total employment base at IAH to approximately 17,000. Many of these new airline jobs will be in the area of airport services and supporting operations.
Continental Airlines is the fifth largest airline in the U.S., offering more than 2,400 departures daily to 138 domestic and 92 international destinations. Operating hubs in Newark, Houston, Cleveland and Guam, Continental ( serves more international cities than any other U.S. carrier, including extensive service throughout the Americas, Europe and Asia.