HOUSTON, June 3 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/—Continental Airlines (NYSE: CAL) today opened the first phase of the new 23-gate “Terminal E” at its largest hub, Houston Bush Intercontinental Airport. The new facility features a spacious, modern design and conveniences for travelers, while giving Continental a platform for growing domestic and international service.
“Frequent flyers will enjoy the all-new design and functionality of the new terminal,” said Gordon Bethune, chairman and CEO of Continental, who presided at the grand opening event. “Most of all they`ll enjoy the opportunity to try new menus and new restaurants and retail shops throughout the terminal.”
Seven gates on the west concourse go into operation immediately. The central building and east concourse will be completed by December, offering the full complement of 23 gates. Continental has been responsible for the construction of Terminal E and will also oversee its operation.
“This terminal certainly lives up to the too-often-used phrase `state of the art`—in fact, I think it will surpass that phrase,” said Houston Mayor Lee Brown. “Terminal E will have the full gamut of amenities, from eateries to retail to just about anything a traveler would need. And on top of all this, Terminal E will be easily accessible.”
From the Traveler`s Perspective: Travelers using Terminal E will first notice the feeling of spaciousness throughout the u-shaped facility. Soaring ceilings, wide concourses, spacious seating areas and huge glass window-walls combine to make the 600,000 square- foot building seem even bigger. Continental adopted architectural design elements from its recent, highly successful terminal expansion at Newark Liberty International Airport, which lends consistency to the travel experience for Continental`s frequent flyers.
Terminal E is state-of-the-art high-tech with flat-screen monitors displaying flight information, automatically-adjusting volume on p.a. announcements to compensate for ambient noise, and the latest-generation eService terminals for self check-in.
Popular artist Peter Max has been commissioned to create a mural for the building`s interior, and “The Art Guys” of Houston are installing an 80-screen video wall that will capture the attention of passersby.
The center of the building will house the largest Presidents Club lounge in the Continental system (three levels and 25,000 square feet), which will open by year-end, along with the east concourse. The Presidents Club will have expansive views of airport operations from its floor-to-ceiling windows, 60 private carrels for business, and showers for customers arriving from overseas in BusinessFirst.
Continental has designated Westfield Concession Management to oversee restaurants and retail in Terminal E, building on Westfield`s success at Liberty`s Terminal C, winner of the Airport Council International`s “Best Retail/Specialty Program” award.
Eateries now open in Terminal E are: Famous Famiglia (New York-style pizzeria), The Li`l Creamery (serving Blue Bell ice cream), Le Petit Bistro, Pappasito`s (Tex-Mex), Panda Express (Chinese) and Starbucks. The new concourse also features a Pappadeaux full-service restaurant (Cajun/Creole seafood kitchen) overlooking the concourse from an upper level and a Freshens Frozen Treats kiosk.
Retail stores opening in the first phase include: Brookstone, CocoMoka Cafe confections, Hudson News, In Celebration of Golf, Johnston & Murphy men`s shoes, Landau Jewelry, Space Trader-NASA, Sunshade Optique, Swatch and Weitnauer Duty Free. Expected in later phases of Terminal E development are 15 additional concessions including a Fox Sports full-service restaurant and sports bar, Cafe Famiglia, Texas Territories Regional Gifts, Borders Bookstore and Cafe, additional Hudson News and Gifts, a second duty free store and currency exchange.
Terminal E is accessible from the parking garage attached to the east side of Terminal C, and is connected to the South Concourse of Terminal C.
Advantages for the Airline: With the full operation of Terminal E by the end of 2003, Continental will have access to 80 gates at IAH to support growth from its present level of 530 daily departures to 148 cities. Continental`s Houston operations comprise the fourth largest airline hub in America based on annual passenger enplanements, and IAH has become a key connection point for international travel to Europe, Latin America and the Pacific.
Gates and loading bridges are designed to accommodate aircraft large and small, giving Continental maximum flexibility to handle a 50-seat regional jet arriving from Mexico or a 283-seat Boeing 777 departing for Tokyo. The City of Houston is building an adjoining Federal Inspection Station (customs and immigrations), expected to open in early 2005, that will allow Continental to handle all international arrivals at Terminal E.
A new 5,000-square-foot employee cafeteria (“Gordon`s Galley”) replaces a smaller facility in Terminal C.