Continental Airlines (NYSE: CAL and CAL.A) and the Houston Airport System (HAS) today announced that the first phase of federal funding for the air traffic control system improvements needed to expand Houston’s air service is included in the Department of Transportation’s Appropriations bill that is expected to pass the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate tomorrow.
A joint House/Senate conference committee agreed to appropriate at least $12 million in the Department of Transportation’s fiscal year 2001 budget for air traffic control equipment for Houston’s airports. A portion of these funds is expected to be used to provide air traffic control for a new 8,500-ft. parallel runway at Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH). Construction on the new runway is expected to begin late 2000, and it will be operational by early 2003.
“We’re grateful to Congressman Tom DeLay who took the lead on this project,” said Gordon Bethune, chairman and chief executive officer of Continental Airlines. “At a time when so many policymakers are focused on the impact of airline delays, it’s good to know that Congressman DeLay is making sure that there will be ample room to grow and enough money to secure the equipment necessary to manage new capacity at IAH.”
Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Texas, 22nd Congressional District) stated today: “Everyone in the Houston area who uses Bush Intercontinental Airport knows that it is a vital thoroughfare for both business and leisure travelers. Unfortunately, because of a huge increase in demand for air travel, delays often force us to miss opportunities to expand our businesses or spend valuable family time at home. This additional runway for our hometown airport will make a real difference in reducing aircraft delays in and out of Houston so that we have more control over our travel and our personal time.”
Runway 8-Left, 26-Right will be built north of the existing runway complex and will have an east/west configuration. Bush Intercontinental Airport currently has four runways. This new fifth runway will allow simultaneous take-offs and landings, reducing aircraft delays and contributing to improved air quality at the airport.
“IAH is one of the fastest growing airports in the nation and this funding is a necessary first step to insure that ATC capabilities are installed and operational when we complete the new runway,” said Houston Airport System Director Richard Vacar. “This appropriation will also make possible ATC improvements at William P. Hobby Airport and insure that air traffic flow in the Houston area is efficient and safe.”
Continental Airlines is the fifth largest airline in the U.S., offering more than 2,300 departures daily to 139 domestic and 92 international destinations. Operating major hubs in Newark, Houston and Cleveland, Continental (www.continental.com) serves more international cities than any other U.S. carrier, including extensive service throughout the Americas, Europe and Asia.