CONSUMER

Salt Lake airport opens 13 new gates, many more concessions as it completes ‘Phase 2’

Oct 31, 2023, 5:47 PM

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall, along with Salt Lake City International Airport and Delta Air...

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall, along with Salt Lake City International Airport and Delta Air Lines executives and Utah Jazz's Bear help cut a cake to celebrate the completion of the Concourse A-East project during a ceremony Tuesday. (Salt Lake City International Airport)

(Salt Lake City International Airport)

SALT LAKE CITY — This year’s travel demand has already been “very strong,” and the final two months of the year are expected to be no exception, says Adam Ryan, managing director of Delta Air Lines.

The travel outlooks, he says, indicate that “robust and strong” holiday travel is on the horizon, as people voyage around the country to meet up with family for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s.

Many of these travelers may end up flying out of or into Salt Lake City International Airport or may have a layover in Utah’s capital city — and they will have several new gates, retail and restaurant options should that be the case.

City leaders and airport officials along with Delta executives and even the Jazz Bear gathered early Tuesday to celebrate the completion of the Concourse A-East project, also referred to as the second phase of the new Salt Lake City International Airport, by cutting a cake shaped as a gate sign to a flight to Delta’s primary headquarters in Atlanta.

The group then moved a massive 45-foot curtain to unveil a major new addition to the concourse before a 6:44 a.m. flight, fittingly to Atlanta, marked the first departure from the new gates.

The facility offers 13 new gates on top of the nine other Concourse A-East gates that opened earlier this year: five in May and four in August. Delta is leasing all of the new gates, as well as the rest of Concourse A as the airport serves as its largest Western hub.

Together, the 22 new gates end the need for hardstands that existed since the new facility opened in 2020, where passengers were required to board a bus to reach their flight or get to the terminal from an incoming flight.

“(It’s) a true milestone for the project here in Salt Lake,” Ryan added, acknowledging the inconvenience that the hardstands were for passengers.

Tuesday’s opening also unlocked several new restaurants and stores, adding more than a dozen new concession options for travelers ahead of the busy holiday season. The new options now available are:

  • The Atrium
  • Auntie Anne’s
  • Burger King
  • Blue Iguana
  • Hudson News
  • Hudson Nonstop
  • Hugo Coffee Roasters
  • Jimmy John’s
  • Millcreek Coffee Roasters
  • Minute Suites
  • Protein Bar & Kitchen
  • Red Rock Brewery
  • Rockwell Ice Cream
  • SLC Public Market (x2)
  • Utah Jazz Store
  • Vessel Kitchen
  • Wow Bao

A P.F. Chang’s location also within the new section is scheduled to open in the coming weeks. Bill Wyatt, the airport’s executive director, said all of the concessions will be running at 100% capacity once the restaurant chain opens, a feat compared to many airports that have been operating at 60% to 70% since the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s really critically important because the nature of travel has really changed,” he said. “Food, retail and beverage opportunities are more important than they have ever been.”

In all, Holder-Big-D and Joint Venture crews drove more than 14 miles of piles, erected 9,625 tons of steel and used more than 250,000 cubic yards of concrete on the Concourse A-East project, airport officials said. They also installed more than 65 miles of mechanical piping, 200 tons of ductwork, as well as over 425 miles of electrical wiring and 100 miles of communications wiring to complete the second phase of construction.

More growth to come
Projects to complete the airport’s Concourse B are now at the center of attention, including a new tunnel that officials say will end the dreaded distant connection between the two concourses. More than two dozen new Concourse B gates are slated to open between 2024 and 2027, as well as many more retail stores and restaurants.

The airport is on track to grow from having 52 jet bridges to more than 90 over a seven-year span, highlighting the sudden growth of airline service in Salt Lake City, Wyatt points out.

“We’re the 23rd-largest (airport) in the country today and we are going to continue to tick up,” he said. “It’s not because the airport is really smart, it is because this community is growing and driving air service.”

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall agrees that the airport’s rise serves as a reflection of Salt Lake City’s and Utah’s general growth. She also believes that Concourse A-East and other additional construction phases will help Salt Lake City International Airport continue to be one of the best airports in the country.

It ranked third behind Tampa International Airport in Florida and John Wayne Airport in California among all large airports in J.D. Power’s satisfaction report released last month.

“We are growing and this airport is a reflection of the downtown core and our state as a whole,” she said. “These new gates and these new restaurants are just going to provide an even more seamless experience for visitors.”

Contributing: Karah Brackin

 

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Salt Lake airport opens 13 new gates, many more concessions as it completes ‘Phase 2’