United Airlines Launches Latest Expansion in Houston

The airline broke ground on the $162 million United Technical Operations Center at George Bush Intercontinental Airport.

By Scott Baltic, Contributing Editor

United Airlines Technical Operations Center
United Airlines Technical Operations Center

Houston—As part of United Airlines’ ongoing expansion of facilities at its Houston hub, the airline, in partnership with the city of Houston and the Houston Airport System, has broken ground on the $162 million United Technical Operations Center (UTOC) at George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH).

The project will add roughly 200,000 square feet of additional hangar capacity for maintenance of widebody aircraft, including Boeing 767s, 777s and 787s and Airbus A350s, as well as a new warehouse distribution center, technical services building and administrative offices.

Of the $162 million cost, $150 million is United’s investment and $12.5 million is the city of Houston’s, a United spokesperson told Commercial Property Executive.

The new UTOC, which is expected to be completed in late 2018, will consolidate United’s Houston maintenance facilities, placing engineers in the hangars adjacent to technicians and aircraft for optimal efficiency. In addition, the expanded facilities will generate approximately 200 new jobs.

“This significant investment in our Houston facilities will enable us to support more aircraft than ever before in Houston and allow us to return them to serving our customers more quickly,” United Executive Vice President & COO Greg Hart said in a prepared statement.

The primary architect is Frankfurt Short Bruza Associates of Oklahoma City, according to the United spokesperson, who added that the airline has not yet selected a primary contractor.

The UTOC project is a continuation of the improvements United has made in partnership at IAH with the Houston Airport System, including the renovation of Terminal C, completed in 2010; the Terminal B South Concourse, completed in 2013; and the new Terminal C North, which will open early next year.

“With the completion of Terminal C North and the move of United’s Houston corporate offices to 609 Main in 2017, we will have invested more than $500 million in capital improvements in Houston since 2010,” the spokesperson said.

609 Main is a 48-story, 1,050,000-square-foot downtown office tower being developed by Hines.

United is one of Houston’s largest employers, with more than 14,000 employees based there.