Flying High: The new SLC International Airport.

Author:Miller, Derek B.

There will be a single moment in the fall of 2020 when operations will transfer from the current Salt Lake City International Airport to The New SLC. It will be the result of years of construction, decades of planning and a forward-looking sense of vision.

Looking to the future

The current airport was not built to be a hub. Yet it is Delta's fourth largest in the United States and accommodates more than twice as many passengers per year as was originally intended. Despite an increasing passenger rate, the Salt Lake airport ranks number one for on-time departures and arrivals. "What Delta goes through to operate in the manner they do here is practically heroic," says Bill Wyatt, executive director of Salt Lake City Department of Airports.

All major airports in the United States undergo a master-planning process periodically to guide required airport development needs to meet demand. The last one completed for Salt Lake City was in 1997. Wyatt keeps a copy of it on his desk and is still blown away by how similar it is to what they are creating now. "There was enough vision to recognize how important it was to build a modern airport to accommodate hub-like traffic," he says.

The new airport is being constructed around and, eventually, directly on top of the current facility--an impressive and unique feat of engineering. Renderings of the main hall boast large window views of the Wasatch Front and permanent art, which will span roughly the length of a football field throughout the terminal. Unique to Utah will be the new meeting/ greeter area which will accommodate friends and families of those returning from military service and religious missions.

The facility is sure to be spectacular, but improvements are far more than just aesthetic. In the future, Delta Airlines is considering adding innovative solutions like automated parking guidance, a radio-frequency identification self-service bag drop, and biometric boarding passes that will use thumbprints or retina scans to identify passengers--these will all act as time-saving solutions for guiding travelers through the airport and to their final destination. All of this will take place in one central terminal to eliminate redundancies.

Other major improvements will be less noticeable. Addressing the vulnerability of the current airport to seismic activity, measures have been taken in the construction of the new build to ensure it...

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