On Sept. 15, the Salt Lake City Department of Airports (SLCDA) turned the key and opened the first phase of The New SLC Airport. As the lights dimmed on the existing airport, the lights brightened on a new parking garage, gateway center, central terminal and Concourse A-west. Delta Air Lines will occupy the 25 gates in Concourse A-west, including six international gates. On Oct. 27, Concourse B-west will open with 20 gates for Alaska, American, Frontier, JetBlue, Southwest and United airlines.
“This day has been years in the making,” said Bill Wyatt, SLCDA executive director, “To say we are excited to be here today is an understatement. After six years of construction and many more years of planning, we are proud to open the first new U.S. hub airport in the 21st Century,” Wyatt added.
The need to build a new SLC airport became apparent as passenger numbers grew and facilities became outdated. Prior to the pandemic, SLC recorded more than 26 million passengers in 2019, in an airport that was built for 10 million passengers.
The advantages of building an entirely new airport is that the architects were able to design for the future to create a more efficient and more sustainable facility. The new concourses are designed in a parallel configuration — compared to the current pier layout — which will eliminate aircraft bottlenecks and idling, so airlines are able to get their planes to the gate and back in the air quicker.
SLCDA also built the new facilities with LEED Gold Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council in mind. The airport achieved this certification through a variety of ways, such as converting all airline ground service equipment to electric. Plus, the use of natural light will also help to achieve the airport’s energy goals.
Additional highlights of the $4.1 billion airport include the following:
- A two-level roadway system with an elevated road designated for departures.
- A parking garage with 3,600 parking stalls and a camera-based sensor system that uses lights to indicate where open spots are located. Plus, 56 places to charge electronic vehicles.
- The Gateway, which houses car rental counters and quick-check airline ticket counters.
- 16 security screening lanes with automatic return bins to aid in touchless travel.
- 45 concessions — 21 restaurants and 24 stores — in the Terminal and Concourse A-west — all with street pricing. (On opening day, there will be 9 restaurants and 12 stores that open in Concourse A-west.)
- Electronic plug-ins at each seat and in open seating areas throughout the airport.
- 7 miles of luggage conveyor belts to accommodate oversized bags, such as skis, snowboards, bike boxes and golf clubs.
- Aircraft gates that employ the Safegate Aircraft Docking System to provide pilots active guidance to support safe, efficient and precise automated aircraft parking during all operating conditions.
- 24 restrooms with private lactation rooms, deep bathroom stalls and unique Whimsy Wall artwork. Passengers are never more than 150 feet away from the next restroom facility.
- The Greeting Room — a large area that can accommodate 300 to 400 individuals — where friends, families and others can wait to pick up passengers once physical distancing measures are no longer in place.
- Large-scale art installations by artist Gordon Huether—The Canyon, The Falls, The Plates and Benches—to represent Utah’s natural beauty and provide a sense of place.
- A convenient, temporary bridge to connect the new terminal to the original airport concourses through Oct. 27.
- Estimated economic impact of the construction project is $5.5 billion.