AOPA recommends that members who plan to fly to the 2016 NCAA Men’s Final Four Basketball Championship in Houston April 2 through 4 expect increased air traffic and possible FAA air traffic management initiatives.
The volume of air traffic in the Houston area is expected to increase from March 31 through April 5 because of arrivals and departures related to the tournament, which will take place at NRG Stadium.
“AOPA will keep members informed of issues as they arise, but it is important for pilots to be proactive if planning on flying in to the area,” said Rune Duke, AOPA director of airspace and air traffic. “It is recommended that pilots check notams frequently and contact their FBO of choice prior to the flight to provide an estimated date and time of arrival and departure. There may be traffic delays in the Houston area.”
Houston-area airports that could be affected by air traffic management initiatives include William P. Hobby Airport, West Houston Airport, Sugar Land Regional Airport, Houston Executive Airport, David Wayne Hooks Memorial Airport, Ellington Airport, and George Bush Intercontinental Airport.
Pilots arriving at William P. Hobby Airport should note that the airport plans to use the north ramp, Runway 17/35, and adjacent taxiways for overflow parking. If needed, Runway 12L/30R also will be in use for parking.
According to the National Business Aviation Association, ATC traffic management initiatives could include such measures as miles-in-trail restrictions; fix balancing and altitude restrictions (dynamic reroutes and altitude assignments may be required to accommodate traffic at the satellite airports); ground delay programs, airspace flow programs and/or ground stops; airborne holding; and limited or no IFR pickups and/or change of destinations to the affected airports allowed within 200 miles.
In the event of severe weather, Houston Center would dynamically implement additional initiatives based on traffic demand and airspace availability.