“We are committed. We’ll be here for a long time,” says the CEO as the airline spreads its wings in Utah’s capital.
What is now a dusty patch of earth west of Salt Lake City International Airport will soon be Delta Air Lines’ largest investment in training outside of its Atlanta headquarters.
On Thursday, Delta officials broke ground for the groundbreaking ceremony for the airline’s new pilot training center at the corner of Wright Brothers and Amelia Earhart Drive. When the 47,000-square-foot center opens in 2025, it will house classrooms, meeting rooms, and four flight simulators.
“We looked at many other places,” said Brad Sheehan, Delta’s vice president of flight training and standards, “and this one caught our eye for a number of reasons.”
Delta will lease the airport site into the 2050s and will have the capacity to expand the center to house up to 10 flight simulators.
“We’re committed,” Sheehan said. “We will stay here for a long time.”
It makes a lot of sense for the airline to open an office in Salt Lake City, Sheehan said, since about a quarter of the airline’s 16,000 pilots are based west of the Mississippi River. You’ll have an easier time getting to Utah than to Atlanta, where the company opened its first training center in 1968.
Approximately 5,400 Delta employees call the Beehive State their home, and more than 1,000 of the company’s pilots are officially based in Salt Lake City.
John Laughter, Delta’s executive vice president and chief of operations, said the new center will have a “significant impact” on the company’s training capabilities and improve access to those opportunities.
“This training facility represents our commitment to a brighter future,” said Laughter, “where Delta continues to scale new heights, driven by our unwavering determination and the trust of our valued passengers.”
Thursday’s event marked the aerospace company’s first public acknowledgment of the proposed training center since the initial project details were announced last year and the latest step in expanding the company’s presence in the Salt Lake City market.
“We are so fortunate to have a partner like Delta Air Lines,” said Mayor Erin Mendenhall, “whose commitment to Salt Lake City is evident every time we break ground, open a new project, or expand our partnership.”
In December, the company inked a deal to keep a hub in the Utah capital through at least 2044, with an option to extend the deal for another decade beyond.
Then, in January, the airline announced a deal to revitalize the Delta Center Arena name downtown at the home of the Utah Jazz.
Delta opened five new gates in the airport’s expanded Concourse A in May and plans to open more gates this year.
When construction of the new airport’s two existing concourses is complete, Delta will occupy all of the A gates and more than a third of the B gates.