United is planning a $2.6 billion renovation and expansion of Terminal B at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) as it embarks on an expansion plan at the Texan hub.

The carrier is also rolling out a new United Club location and Early Bag Storage facility (EBS).

The investments are part of the airline's ‘United Next’ growth plan and include the expansion of 40 gates at IAH to accommodate larger aircraft.

United, already the largest airline in Houston, said the upgrades would result in a 40% increase in the overall number of people who can fly on peak travel dates in 2026, compared to 2023.

The airline employs more than 14,000 people at the airport to support 400 daily departures, having hired more than 2,100 people in 2023 alone. It expects to add another 1,500 in 2024.

Including the Terminal B project, United has invested more than $3.5 billion in its Houston facilities since 2015.  

"United Next is about new investments that improve the customer experience and building careers for the next generation of aviation professionals – and all those things and more are coming to life here in Houston," said United CEO Scott Kirby.

United's Terminal B transformation programme is pending final approval from Houston's city council.

If given the greenlight, it would see a new three-level, 765,000 sq ft Terminal B North Concourse with 22 mainline, narrow-body gates.

The project will also convert 30 existing small regional jet gates to 18 gates to accommodate larger, two-class regional jets in the Terminal B South Concourse.

The work will facilitate boarding via jet bridge for all flights, and two major concessions hubs with more than 115,000 sq ft of food and retail space are to be built.

A new EBS facility is also set to become fully operational in early 2024, with a 40 bags per-minute throughput enabling United's overall baggage system to handle 80,000 bags per day.

Image: United