Last updated: 04:30 PM ET, Fri October 16 2015

Houston's William P. Hobby Airport Opens International Terminal

Airlines & Airports | Patrick Clarke | October 16, 2015

Houston's William P. Hobby Airport Opens International Terminal

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Houston's William P. Hobby Airport unveiled its brand new international terminal Thursday, making history when the first flight departed for Cancun, Mexico.

Local news outlet KTRK reported the five-gate terminal spans more than 280,000 square feet. 

Southwest Airlines financed the $156 million project — which began in September 2013 — and by the end of 2015 the budget carrier hopes to operate flights between Hobby Airport and at least 10 Latin American destinations, including Mexico, Costa Rica, and Belize.

Southwest celebrated Thursday's opening with a party for passengers. reported Houston Mayor Annise Parker was on hand to greet passengers as they boarded the first flight to Cancun. There was also an employee cheering squad and a mariachi band. 

In addition to the new terminal, the extensive project included a new parking garage and customs area. Air travelers passing through the international terminal will also have access to a slew of new dining options.

With the new terminal up and running, Southwest aims to give the competition a run for its money.

"Your question was our we trying to bring down the price in the market. That's what we do. The Southwest effect is what we're known as. We do that domestically and now we're looking forward to doing that internationally as well," Southwest Airlines spokesperson Thais Hanson told Houston's KTRK. "Houstonians no longer have to drive north to fly to fly south. We're creating a new need and giving Houstonians what they want and what they needed for a long time."

Airport officials have no plans to change the airport's name based on the expanded service, per KTRK.

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