Mayor Jackie Biskupski selects airline industry and logistics expert Bill Wyatt to lead Salt Lake City Department of Airports

On Oct. 12, 2017, Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski announced Bill Wyatt as her choice for the Executive Director of the Salt Lake City Department of Airports.

Bill has extensive experience in both the public and private sectors, most notably in his role as CEO of the Port of Portland. For the past 17 years, Bill oversaw the complex logistics of day-to-day operations of all Port activities as customer-focused leader. He handled $2 billion in capital construction projects, managed a $330 million annual operating budget with fiscal prudence, developed a workforce of 800 employees, and maintained excellent relationships with many stakeholders, including elected officials, community partners, Delta, TSA, and more.

“I have great appreciation for the enormous value airports serve in our communities,” said Bill Wyatt. “I’m drawn by virtue to the ambitious opportunity in Salt Lake City, and I’m eager to join the team and get to work.”

“As the Salt Lake City International Airport undergoes the largest construction expansion in its history, it is critical that we have an individual at the table with extensive management and logistics experience,” said Mayor Biskupski. “I am confident that Bill’s expertise and knowledge will lead us well as we enter into an exciting new chapter of operations.”

Currently, Salt Lake City International Airport in the midst of a more than $3 billion Terminal Redevelopment Program, which will address operational needs, seismic and security standards, and modernize facilities. No local tax dollars are being used for the redevelopment program. The airport serves over 23 million passengers a year from facilities designed 50 years ago to accommodate half as many travelers. Bill will oversee the massive project, which is scheduled to be completed in phases by 2024.

“I’m excited to be part of the most consequential airport project in the country,” said Bill Wyatt. “Great institutions are made great because people are the foundation, and Salt Lake City International Airport has an exceptional reputation.”

The Department of Airports oversees a portfolio of three airports, including Salt Lake City International Airport, South Valley Regional Airport in West Jordan, and Tooele Valley Airport. As director, Bill will manage operations including over 500 employees, 1,000 contracts, and an annual budget of $367 million.

“Not only will Bill oversee airport construction and run operations, but his ability to bring vision into action will be imperative in looking to the future,” said Mayor Biskupski. “As we develop the Northwest Quadrant and examine our inland port, Bill is yet another expert at the table to help breakdown silos and cement Salt Lake City as the “Crossroads of the West.”

“I would also like to thank Russell Pack, who has been serving as Interim Executive Director during our national search,” said Mayor Biskupski. “His willingness to step up again and lead operations smoothly is unmatched and will not be forgotten.”

Bill previously worked as Chief of Staff to Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber, as president of the Oregon Business Council, and as Executive Director of the Association for Portland Progress.

He currently serves as director of the Oregon Business Council, and as a board member of the Oregon Historical Society and Columbia River Maritime Museum. He is excited to relocate to Salt Lake City, and enjoys all things outdoors, including hiking, skiing, and fishing.

The appointment is subject to the advice and consent of the City Council.


SLC Airport Keeps Runways in Tip Top Shape

To keep its runways in top condition, the Salt Lake City Department of Airports performs regular maintenance—including asphalt overlays—to protect the safety, integrity and functionality of the runways. Salt Lake City Airport’s (SLC) airfield consists of three runways for airlines as well as a general aviation runway.

On July 31, 2017, SLC began an overlay project on runway 14/32, which is scheduled to be completed in early October, 2017. The first step in a runway overlay project is to remove the existing asphalt, which is recycled by spreading the asphalt in landscaped areas around the airfield.

Crews collecting asphalt from old runway for recycling.

Next, crews spread the new asphalt and wait for it to cure before beginning the grooving process. During this process, crews use a ride-on saw with multiple blades spaced and set to the proper depth. They drive the machine, usually with 10 to 30 blades, several times on the runway and connector areas. The main purpose of the groove is to shed water off the runway, allowing better contact for aircraft.

Crews laying the new asphalt for the runway.

Lastly, lights are installed and the appropriate markings are painted on the runway.

Runways are named using numbers between 01 and 36, which is one tenth of the magnetic azimuth of the runway’s heading in degrees. For example, a runway numbered 09 points 90 degrees to the east.

Facts about SLC Airport runways:

  • Runway 16L/34R is 12,003 feet long
  • Runway 16R/34L is 12,000 feet long
  • Runway 17/35 is 9,596 feet long
  • Runway 14/32 is 4,900 feet long

SLC Airport Offers Animal Relief Stations

Passenger’s furry, four-legged friends are spending more time in airports than they used to, and airports are helping by becoming a friendlier place for pets. Airports are accommodating pet passengers by designating areas as animal relief stations.

SLC International Airport has four animal relief stations located in and around the airport. Two of the stations are located pre-security, while two others are accessible behind the TSA security checkpoints.

Pre Security

The pre-security animal relief stations are located across the street from each terminal, in front of the parking garage. These grassy areas are equipped with waste stations and space to exercise pets.

Post Security

The areas behind security that are designated for animal relief are located on each side of the airport—one in Concourse B and the second near Concourse E. Because these areas are in the secure area of the airport, passengers and their pets must be escorted outside by either an airport or airline employee. Airline employees from nearby gates can assist by opening the door and walking passengers and their pets to the relief area. Passengers can also contact SLC Airport Operations by calling (801) 647-5159 for assistance.

The SLC Airport hopes these designated areas helps to make travel with pets easier, and asks that owners to do their part and pick up after their pets. To locate the airport’s animal relief stations, visit the Airport Terminal Map.

SLC Airport to Begin Hardstand Operations

Passengers departing from Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) may soon see a change in the way they board their flights. SLC is expected to begin implementing hardstand operations for select flights due to increasing demand for gates and a limited capacity.

Hardstand parking is a term used by airports to describe when an aircraft is parked on the ramp and passengers are transported to the airplane via a shuttle bus rather than boarding from a loading bridge at the gate. Hardstand operations will also be used at SLC to unload passengers during peak times.

SLC has purchased three Cobus vehicles in preparation for implementing hardstand operations. Cobus vehicles can accommodate about 60 passengers with carry-on luggage. Hardstand operations are common at European airports, while large-size U.S. airports also implement hardstand operations when capacity exceeds the number of available gates.

SLC Airport purchased Cobus vehicles in preparation to implement hardstand operations.

“SLC is looking at alternative ways to accommodate our growing number of passengers,” said Russell Pack, acting director for the Salt Lake City Dept. of Airports. “Hardstand operations are the most effect way to transport passengers without delaying departures or arrivals.”

Of the 71 gates at SLC Airport, only 55 have jet bridges. The remaining 16 gates are designed for regional jets and unable to accommodate mainline aircraft. Airlines have been moving away from flying regional jets and increasing their use of larger aircraft. Airlines also operate banks of flights to help with connections, which means aircraft arrive within the same time frame creating a demand for gates.

Picture of a hardstand operation at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport.

The New SLC Airport gates have been designed to accommodate mainline aircraft as well as regional jets, which will address the issue of gate capacity.

SLC Airport was built in 1961 to accommodate 10 million passengers and now sees more than 23 million passengers each year. As a hub operation for Delta Air Lines, SLC averages 347 daily departures to 93 nonstop destinations.

Airport Works to Preserve Wetlands

Management of the Salt Lake City International Airport extends well beyond the Airport’s terminals and taxiways. West of the Airport campus, the Salt Lake City Dept. of Airports (SLCDA) is tasked with caring for 500 acres of wetlands and wildlife.

In the early 1990s, after the Airport opened a third runway, the Army Corps of Engineers required SLCDA to create a wetlands management plan for land west of the Airport in order to mitigate the impact construction had on the existing wetlands.

Managing a large, evolving track of wetlands is no small task. Airport staff routinely work to control invasive species—such as phragmites—monitor water levels, replace wetland plants and guard the property from trespassers. The Airport also promotes wildlife habitats for antelope and deer as well as bird species such as ducks, geese and Sandhill cranes. Coordinating with nearby landowners is also a part of the Airport’s wetlands management plan.

The management of nearby wetlands is a unique responsibility that Airport takes pride in preserving.

The New SLC

If you’ve been at the SLC International Airport recently, you’ve probably seen a lot of construction underway west of the airport.

The SLC Airport is three years into construction of the Airport Redevelopment Program, which will result in a completely new airport by 2024.

SLC is overdue for a new airport. The original terminal was built 50 years ago for 10 million passengers and was not built to be a hub operation. Today, SLC sees more than 23 million passengers each year and is a hub for Delta Air Lines. The new airport design will address seismic issues. In addition, all gates will have jet bridges and will be able to accommodate larger body planes.

The New SLC is being completed in two phases. The first phase, scheduled to be finished in the fall of 2020, will include a new Parking Garage — with twice the capacity as the current parking garage — a new Terminal, Central Utility Plant and the west portions of two new concourses.

The second phase—expected to be finished in 2023/24—will begin with demolition of the existing parking garage, terminals and eventually all concourses. This will allow construction to begin on the east portions of the new concourses.

The new airport will be easier to for passengers to navigate and the design will eliminate airplane bottlenecks on the airfield, allowing airplanes to turn around and get back in the air more quickly. That means a more efficient and effective airport.

The cost of the new airport is approximately $3.1 billion. The airport will be funded by 2017 and future bonds, Passenger Facility Charges, Federal Grants, Rental Car Facility Charges, and Airport Cash. Note that no local tax dollars will be used for the project.

More information on the Airport Redevelopment Program can be found here on our website.

Canines Working at the SLC Airport

As passenger traffic continues to increase at Salt Lake City International Airport, law enforcement officers are working to keep passengers safe and secure. The Airport and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) do this with the help of explosive detection canine teams.

SLC Airport Police explosive detection canine teams patrol all areas of the airport—both inside and out—while the TSA canines screen passengers at the security checkpoints.  These specially-trained canines are an effective tool in detecting concealed explosives, which are known to be one of the greatest threat to the aviation system.

SLC Airport Police canine teams, both the handler and the dogs, go through  12 weeks of intensive training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. One of the primary responsibilities of the handler and canine is to conduct patrols throughout the Airport for explosive materials.

From left to right: SLC Airport Police Officer Casey Strasburg with Big, SLC Airport Police Officer Chris Barker with Csoki, SLC Airport Police Officer Jake Haggerty with Bobby, SLC Airport Police Officer Robert Paxton with Bruce, TSA Officer Joanne Vasek with Bruce, TSA Officer Tom Scott with Buster.


Passengers going through the security checkpoints will see passenger screening canines (PSCs) working the queues. PSCs significantly assist TSA to more efficiently screen passengers.

The canines are tethered to the handlers at all times and work in close proximity to passengers. Handlers are trained to read the canine’s behavior to determine when a possible explosive is detected.

While the first instinct for many people is to pet the dogs, passengers are asked to refrain from doing so because it interferes with the canine’s work. The handlers, on the other hand, are approachable and happy to answer questions.

New Park and Wait Lot Coming June 1

Drivers coming to pick up passengers at the Salt Lake International Airport will need to access a new Park and Wait lot come June 1.

The new lot is located on the west side of Terminal Drive, prior to the current lot. Instead of exiting to the right, like one does to enter the current lot, those planning on waiting until their passengers arrive before proceeding down Terminal Drive will exit the road on the left.

With more parking spaces – 120 compared to 86 – the new lot will better accommodate those who take advantage of the Park and Wait lot.

The new lot, however, is not yet complete. Construction will soon begin on a convenience store that will include a Chevron gas station, an electric charging station and food options, including a Beans & Brews Coffee House, Burger King and Costa Vida. Customers can enter the store to order food, or get anything off the menus by using the drive-through. That is scheduled to be complete in the Fall of 2017.

The existing Park and Wait Lot must be vacated to make way for construction to begin on the elevated roadway that will be the entry point for The New SLC. The new roadway is designed with one level for passenger pick-up and one level for passenger drop-off. This roadway configuration is expected to alleviate congestion on Terminal Drive.

SLC’s Award-Winning Snow Removal Crews

Did you fly in or out of the Salt Lake City International Airport this past winter during a snowstorm? If so, you may not have known it at the time, but there was an award-winning snow removal crew working hard to ensure a safe arrival or departure of your plane.

The Dept. of Airport’s snow removal crew has been recognized nationally by the American Association of Airport Executives with the 2017 Balchen/Post Award for excellence in the performance of airport for snow and ice control during the winter of 2016-2017. The award, which is the eleventh earned by the SLC Airport, was presented on April 23 at the annual International Aviation Snow Symposium.

SLC Airport Maintenance Operations Superintendent Medardo Gomez accepts the 2017 Balchen/Post Award for excellence in the performance of airport for snow and ice control during the winter of 2016-2017.

SLC Airport received 51.3 inches of snow during the 2016-2017 winter season. There were nine days when snow plows and other equipment made their way out to the airfield to clear the snow. With 52.6 million sq. ft. of airfield and roads needing to be cleared during a storm, it’s no small task to keep important areas, such as runways and taxiways, clear of snow.

During those events, crews drove a total of 7,947 miles, which is almost the distance between Salt Lake City and Sydney, Australia (8,022 miles).

The biggest snowstorm of the year hit on Christmas Day as 9.4 inches fell throughout the day. Snow removal began that morning at 2:15 a.m., and finally ended at around 8 p.m. Throughout the day, crews battled the continuous snowfall and made it possible for every scheduled flight to land or take off. This was the third consecutive Christmas Day our crews were called away from their family Christmas morning, and no one from the snow removal crews called in sick that day.

During one of the winter snowstorms, KSL TV crews road got an up-close look at the snow removal operations.

Congratulations to the airfield maintenance crew for their outstanding performance.

Click here for more information on snow removal at the SLC Airport.

SLC Airport Director to Retire

The Salt Lake City Dept. of Airports (SLCDA) Executive Director Maureen Riley announced April 13 plans to retire the end of June. Maureen has served as the Airport executive director for the past 10 years. She was appointed to the position by former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson in February 2007.

Maureen’s experience in both finance and construction has been a tremendous advantage for the City and has proved to be an asset for the development and design of The New SLC. Maureen has been credited with gaining approval from the airlines that serve SLC for the Airport redevelopment and for creating a successful program to get the job done.

“It’s very gratifying to know that the Salt Lake City International Airport is now positioned to meet passenger growth well into the future,” Maureen commented. “I’ve enjoyed a great relationship with our tenants, customers other stakeholders, and also, dedicated Airport employees who work hard every day to make SLC the best.”


“Maureen has been an incredible director of our airport during a historic era of passenger growth, and has been a steward of the facility’s largest-ever construction project,” said Mayor Jackie Biskupski. “She is highly respected among her peers in the world’s airport industry for her financial skills and management talents, and she will be missed.” (Link to the Mayor’s blog post.)

Maureen has more than 30 years of experience in working in the airport industry. As an airport consultant in the 1990s, she saw first-hand the inner workings of numerous airports across the country. Working as the deputy executive director at Orlando International Airport provided Maureen the added experience with airline relations, customer service strategy and public outreach.

Maureen has been active in the airport professional groups and served as chair of the Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA) in 2016. ACI-NA is one of five global regions that comprises ACI World, a trade organization of airports from around the globe. She also served as a member of the ACI World Board of Directors from 2012 through 2016.

“We can learn a lot from sharing experiences and information with our colleagues throughout the airport industry and use that information to create better operating results,” Maureen noted.

Before joining the airport industry in 1986, Maureen worked in public accounting for 11 years. She is a graduate of the Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania and a Certified Public Accountant.