Economic Review -- These are exciting times for travel from the Salt Lake City International Airport and the future couldn't be brighter, says Bianca Shreeve, public relations and marketing manager for the Salt Lake City Department of Airports.

This month Delta is launching daily nonstop service from Salt Lake City to Amsterdam as part of a planned eight percent capacity increase from its Mountain West hub over the next five years. Delta customers flying the new route will have connecting opportunities to more than 60 destinations throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa through a joint venture with Air France-KLM and Alitalia.

Delta is the only airline operating trans-Atlantic service from Salt Lake City. Amsterdam will become Delta's second route to Europe from the capital city. The airline already flies from Salt Lake City to Paris Charles De Gaulle. Gov. Gary Herbert and a delegation of Utah business, government and civic leaders will celebrate the new route in June as they conduct a trade mission to Western Europe, stopping first in Amsterdam for a tourism luncheon to promote the direct flight.

Salt Lake City is now a major western hub for Delta and the airline reaffirmed its commitment to the city as part of a groundbreaking event for the Salt Lake City International Airport’s $1.8 billion upgrade, called the Terminal Redevelopment Program (TRP). Delta announced a new 10-year lease at the groundbreaking event. Over that lease period the TRP will practically replace the aging terminal with a flexible facility that will accommodate growth, address seismic risks and improve operations and customer service at the airport.

"The new airport terminal will be a state-of-the-art facility that is better equipped to support the needs of modern passengers," says Shreeve. The actual terminal design has not been finalized, but will likely be announced this summer, she notes. Current construction activity involves the quick turnaround rental car facility, which will accommodate light maintenance and fueling of rental cars on the south side of the airport.

The terminals were originally designed to accommodate 12 million passengers a year, but currently handle 21 million passengers annually. Airport Public Relations Director Barbara Gann says the new facility will solve operational problems, provide right-sized facilities, improve customer service, keep the Airport cost-competitive and retain strong sustainability while improving environmental performance.

From a passenger perspective, the new design will trade the current three terminals for a single, three-level terminal with fewer gates, yet it will be able to handle more passengers and aircraft. The terminal levels will open in two pieces. The first half is anticipated to open in 2019 and the second in 2022.

No state or local tax dollars will be used for the TRP. The Airport has saved nearly $378 million for the renovation, while other monies will come from landing fees, rent, concessions and federal grants.

The Salt Lake City International Airport's annual economic impact to the state is significant, providing 35,290 full-time jobs, paying $1.1 billion in wages/income, producing $1.9 billion in gross domestic product and generating $3.3 billion in total economic output.

Meanwhile, according to an economic impact analysis by GSBS Richman Consulting, the 12-year TRP will create 23,919 full-time jobs, pay $1 billion in wages/income, create $1.5 billion in gross domestic product and produce $3 billion in total economic output.

As the analysis notes, the Salt Lake City International Airport plays an important role in supporting business and economic growth in the state: "Its operations are a key component in providing affordable access to worldwide destinations for business and individuals. To that end, improved operations of the airport will offer more efficient access to global markets and an opportunity to continue to add value to Utah's economy by strengthening the ties of local institutions to their global peers (such as universities, hospitals, the arts, etc.), sustaining existing business, providing access to new business opportunities outside of the state and attracting new business to the state."

The state's tourism industry will also benefit by the TRP. The analysis estimates the seven-year impact of spending by both out-of-state tourists and business travelers dependent on air travel to be nearly $18.7 billion, or roughly 1.5 percent of the state GDP each year. The TRP is also significant from an economic development perspective, as Salt Lake City International Airport services are important to business siting, success and expansion. Though difficult to measure, as the analysis notes, the Airport is at the epicenter of successful growth for the State of Utah.