Delta partners with Salt Lake City Airport until 2044, helps fund 16-gate expansion

The Salt Lake City International Airport has undergone several changes in the last several years. The airport plans to build 16 additional gates at the end of Concourse B. (Salt Lake City International Airport)

The Salt Lake City International Airport announced a deal with Delta Air Lines to extend their contract until 2044.

According to the Salt Lake City International Airport website, Delta accounts for almost 70% of the total flights from the airport, making the airport a major Delta hub. With the new deal announced, Delta’s future in Utah is secured for the next 20 years, with the possibility of an additional 10-year extension.

This deal will help fund the 16-gate expansion that was approved in the Salt Lake City Council meeting on Sept. 20, 2022. According to the City Council Transmittal document from the meeting, the expansion will allow “for more flights to accommodate growth and potential new entrants to utilize the airport, which typically results in more competitive pricing and lower costs for the flying public.”

A Delta Airlines airplane flys over an airport. Delta’s partnership with the Salt Lake International Airport ensures that Salt Lake City will remain a Delta hub for the next 20 years. (Delta Media Hub)

The Salt Lake City International Airport website says “airport revenue is generated from user fees. No local taxpayer dollars contribute to the airport’s operation.” The $683 million expansion of the airport proposed in September is being funded by the airline and airport themselves. According to the City Council Transmittal document, this expansion will add 16 gates to the end of Concourse B, for a total of 94 gates in both Concourses A and B.

(@slcairport via Twitter)

Bill Wyatt, director of Salt Lake City airports, explained that this deal helps Salt Lake City by putting most of the responsibility onto the airlines. “In good times, (the airlines) do really well. If they throw more traffic into Salt Lake, they’re going to do better. In bad times, we’re protected, and our debt service is paid and the bills are paid.”

Delta’s decision to continue partnering with the Salt Lake City International Airport is a major sign that they will continue to support their hub in Salt Lake City. According to Wyatt, all of the lease agreements with the airlines that service Salt Lake City International Airport expire in 2024, yet Delta asked the airport to extend their lease before the lease expired, which none of the other airlines have offered. Delta’s dedication to what they call “the Atlanta of the West” is evident in their decision to keep working with the airport.

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall released a statement about the deal: “Salt Lake City’s strong economy, skilled workforce, and welcoming culture continue to attract investments — big and small — from companies around the world. I’m thrilled to see key partners like Delta deepen their roots in our incredible capital city.”

BYU senior Madelyn Baxter flies on Delta twice a year when heading home to her family. She said it was “cool that those people can keep their jobs.” Baxter said she’s had a great experience with Delta.

Two airplanes wait for their turn to take off from the Salt Lake International Airport. According to the Salt Lake City International Airport, Delta makes up about 70% of their total airplane traffic. (Salt Lake City International Airport/Richard Green)

Free Wi-Fi included on Delta flights

The experience of Delta flyers will be changing after the announcement made at the 2023 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas by Delta CEO Ed Bastian. As of Feb. 1, Delta will offer free Wi-Fi on most of its domestic flights.

“It’s going to be free, it’s going to be fast and it’s going to be available to everyone,” Bastian said. “There is no fine print.”

This service will be offered through the Delta SkyMiles Membership, which is free for users to join. Members can browse the internet, stream videos, message friends, shop online and work remotely, all while flying with Delta.

Baxter said free Wi-Fi for everyone is “really convenient.” While she does sometimes like disconnecting while on flights, she said it can be a “huge pain to not get things done.”

No one better connects the world than Delta, and no one better connects the sky, Bastian said.

Those flying on Delta will need to have a SkyMiles account to access the free Wi-Fi. The free SkyMiles account allows users to earn miles that can be traded in for other perks. (Delta Media Hub)
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