Terminal D work well underway through ITRP at Bush Airport

Change is coming to Terminal D at George Bush Intercontinental Airport through the IAH Terminal Redevelopment Program

August 24, 2022

In 1990, Terminal D, then known as the $95 million Mickey Leland International Airlines Building, opened to great fanfare. Since its opening 32 years ago, passenger traffic has quadrupled while only minor cosmetic improvements have been made to the international terminal.

That is no longer the case. As a project within Bush Airport’s IAH Terminal Redevelopment Program, ITRP, crews are working overnight to refresh the interior of the existing terminal – taking up carpets, pulling up flooring, redoing walls and modernizing the look and feel. In addition to the Terminal D refresh, the team is building a brand new D West Concourse space with 10 new narrow-body gates. It will also accommodate up to 6 wide-body aircraft simultaneously.

“We are very excited to deliver a such beautiful, functional and modern space to the well-deserving traveling public and staff, this is a space you will want to spend time in” said Travis Sanderfer, Executive Program Manager of the IAH Terminal Redevelopment Program, also known as the ITRP. It’s the largest capital improvement program in the history of Houston Airports.

The new design of Terminal D, also known as the Mickey Leland International Terminal, MLIT, will include updated textures and textiles, energy-efficient systems and many modernized amenities, according to Sanderfer.

The MLIT has 12 gates and houses 13 airlines that transport well over 2 million passengers each year. For years, the terminal has operated at maximum capacity during peak hours. Sanderfer said the expansion and modernization will accommodate anticipated growth, and is “right on time” as the aviation world recovers rapidly from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Passenger benefits from Terminal D improvements include:

•           Nearly 175,000 square feet of new building for the processor and renovation of 169,000 square feet of the existing conditions.

•           10 new aircraft gates.

•           Comfortable passenger waiting areas at the new gates.

•           37,000 square feet of new concessions and retail options.

•           Welcoming aesthetics, artwork and lighting that express the unique culture and natural environment of Houston.

Passenger benefits from Terminal D sustainability initiatives include:

•           New and modern open-concept concessions and duty-free space.

•           Lowering energy and greenhouse gas emissions.

•           Water conservation.

•           Air quality improvement.

•           Waste management and recycling.

•           More High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) options for ground transportation.

•           Reduced energy consumption.

Due to be substantially completed in late 2024, ITRP will:

  • Accommodate international airline growth and larger wide-body aircraft by installing additional international gates.
  • Resolve current and future roadway and curbside capacity constraints in the central terminal area.
  • Vastly improve baggage handling system capacity and reliability challenges.
  • Provide a wide range of additional amenities like concessions, lounges, restaurants, and shops.



According to Sanderfer, the new International Central Processor (ICP) complex will accommodate operations for United Airlines international service and more than 15 foreign flag airlines. New gates will be sufficient for international growth from increasing passenger demand and increasing flight options among air carriers.  

The ITRP started in 2015 with a series of projects. It advanced significantly in 2020 with the permanent closing of the parking garages for Terminals D & E for demolition.

The location of the D & E parking garages is now being used to expand the MLIT with a new International Central Processor. Once complete, the central processor will house ticketing counters, baggage claims and a 17 lanes of security checkpoints. The facility will be among the largest and most modern in the U.S.

Attached to the MLIT will be a new concourse which will replace the old concourse. The updated facility will allow international travelers to explore dining options, relax in one of the many new lounges and board their planes.

New construction also includes a new baggage screening facility, a new common use lounge space and 2 additional levels of parking in the Terminal C Parking Garage.

“Building in a live operational environment that never sleeps is challenging and requires a lot of planning,” Sanderfer said. “ITRP collaborates relentlessly with all internal and external stakeholders to ensure construction activity doesn’t impede airport operations, the customer experience or traffic conditions. We do this in several ways with night installations, off-site fabrication, off-peak roadway impacts and adding additional roadway lanes while using detailed traffic modeling to guide decisions. Strategic delivery and planning allows the ITRP to minimize the impacts to the community while being environmentally responsible. We are confident that the final product will be something we can all be proud of. It will be an experience that will provide airport guests with a world -class travel experience and airport staff an amazing workplace.”

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