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Friday October 31, 2003

HOUSTON – Mayor Lee P. Brown was joined today by Houston Airport System Director Rick Vacar, Continental Airlines President Larry Kellner, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Deputy Administrator Robert A. Sturgell and several government and aviation officials to celebrate the grand opening of the new $300 million Runway 8L-26R at George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH). “There is nothing that says “great economic development” like an expanded airport,” expressed Mayor Brown. “And there is probably nothing as crucial to expanding international economic development as an airport capable of handling growing trade and passenger demands,” continued Brown.

The new runway is 9000 feet long and 150 feet wide with 35 feet shoulders on each side and it includes high-speed exits to the parallel taxiway ensuring speedy flight operations. Runway 8L-26R is IAH’s fifth runway and third parallel Category III runway, permitting triple independent simultaneous all-weather flight operations. It is also the first runway at IAH to utilize LED Taxiway Edge Light Fixtures. IAH is only one of three airports in the nation that has the capability to land three airplanes at the same time in the lowest visibility conditions. “This unique feature puts IAH at a competitive advantage for attracting more domestic and international carriers as well as flights,” emphasized HAS Deputy Director for Marketing, Communications and Community Affairs Luis E. Perez. “The added capacity is a major step towards accommodating the future anticipated growth in demand and passenger volume,” added Perez. Airport officials expect the number of passengers to reach nearly 70 million per year by 2022, doubling current passenger volumes.

This runway affords many other advantages. It will reduce flight delays by facilitating quicker landings and takeoffs. Instead of waiting to land on two runways, IAH will now have three landing runways available, reducing airborne traffic jams especially during bad weather. Also, aircraft ground delays will be reduced resulting in lower total emissions. The additional runway will increase the capacity of the per hour arrival rate of the airport by 50 percent allowing the airport to accommodate 96 arrival operations per hour in low visibility conditions and 108 arrival operations per hour in under normal visibility conditions. “The new runway together with the installation of new lighting will ensure that Bush Intercontinental Airport is positioned as one of the world’s leading high capacity airports,” noted HAS Aviation Director Rick Vacar. “IAH is now capable of handling additional air traffic more efficiently and safely,' he added.

Eleven separate major construction projects were involved in completing the runway, with groundbreaking on November 27, 2000. Total cost for the entire runway complex, including land acquisition, is approximately $300 million. The FAA is funding $180 million over 10 years. The remaining portion is funded through General Airport Revenue Bonds. HAS uses no city general fund taxes in its operation or expansion. Revenue bonds finance most capital improvement projects.

Runway 8L-26R is part of the $2.9 billion expansion and renovation plan for HAS scheduled for completion by 2005. In 2003, IAH opened the new Rental Car Facility, the George Bush Intercontinental CargoCenter and the first phase of Terminal E.

The Houston Airport System is a major factor in the southeast Texas economy. It is estimated that HAS is responsible for over 8 billion dollars in economic activity annually in the Houston area, and generates over 90,000 jobs for the region. The Houston Airport System is the fourth largest multi-airport system in the United States and the sixth largest in the world. George Bush Intercontinental Airport is the nation's eight largest passenger airport and 11th largest in the world. In 2002, HAS served over 42 million passengers.

For more information on HAS visit our web site at

Ernest DeSoto, Senior Executive – Media Relations
Office: 281-233-1975; Pager: 888-527-9626






Humble, Tx Atascocita, Tx Kingwood, Tx