Passenger data shows Houston airports saw about 50% decline in travelers March 2019-20

George Bush Intercontinental Airport saw a decrease of 1.36 million passengers between February and March. (Courtesy Houston Airport System Twitter)
George Bush Intercontinental Airport saw a decrease of 1.36 million passengers between February and March. (Courtesy Houston Airport System Twitter)

George Bush Intercontinental Airport saw a decrease of 1.36 million passengers between February and March. (Courtesy Houston Airport System Twitter)

Like many other industries in the Greater Houston area, the Houston Airport System took a sharp hit in the month of March due to the coronavirus.

Stay-at-home orders as well as travel advisories and restrictions in place amid the virus caused passenger travel to decrease by about 50% at George Bush Intercontinental Airport and the William P. Hobby Airport in March 2020 as compared to March 2019, HAS Public Information Officer Augusto Bernal said.

IAH saw a decrease of 1.36 million passengers between February and March, from 3.37 million to 2 million, per HAS data. The airport also took nearly a 49.13% decline in March passengers from the same time last year; 3.95 million passengers traveled through the airport in March 2019.

The number of flyers at HOU decreased from 1.03 million to 609,427 between February and March, while the airport's year-over-year data shows 651,470 fewer passengers traveled through HOU in March 2020 versus March 2019—a 51.67% decline.

The financial hit the airports are taking will be mitigated in part by multimillion-dollar grants both airports are set to receive from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, which was signed into law March 27, Community Impact Newspaper reported.


The U.S. Department of Transportation granted $149.19 million to IAH, $50.87 million to HOU and $157,000 to Ellington Airport, which is a noncommercial airport also operated by HAS. The grant funds will be used for general operations and debt service at both IAH and HOU, Bernal said.

While the long-term impact of the virus on the systems is not yet clear, Bernal said the HAS is ready to accommodate the community's travel needs as soon as needed.

"When public health, city, state and federal officials deem it safe, we are prepared to reconnect the people, businesses, cultures and economies of the world to Houston," he said.


By Kelly Schafler

Managing editor, South Houston

Kelly joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in June 2017 after majoring in print journalism and creative writing at the University of Houston. In March 2019, she transitioned to editor for the Lake Houston-Humble-Kingwood edition and began covering the Spring and Klein area as well in August 2020. In June 2021, Kelly was promoted to South Houston managing editor.