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AirTran to build new training facility in College Park

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

While many in the airline industries are cutting services and preparing for the worst, AirTran Airways is making a $2 million investment in its future by building a state-of-the art training facility in College Park.

The 50,000-square-foot facility, currently in the construction phase, is expected to open early next year. Once built, the new facility on Clipper Road in College Park will eliminate the need for two of AirTran's buildings on Phoenix Parkway, and consolidate its pilot training, in-flight training, customer service, recruiting, and Human Resources departments all under one roof.

"We're optimistic about the future, and that's why we're investing in this building," said Stan Whitehead, manager of facilities and contracts at AirTran. "It gives us an opportunity to continue to grow."

Whitehead said part of the design for the new building "was to give us the flexibility, as we grow, to use it for many different purposes." The new building will have classrooms with adjustable walls, which can be partitioned to accommodate small groups, or adjusted to conduct group training seminars for up to 600 people.

To familiarize pilots and in-flight service trainees with the inside of a plane, the building will contain full-size fuselage mock-ups of the Boeing 717 and the Boeing 737. Another wing of the building will be dedicated to administrative offices, with space for new administrative departments, as needs are identified.

Whitehead believes the move will eliminate duplication of services, while developing better cooperation among the entities which help AirTran function.

"With each building running alone, you have some redundancy in positions," said Whitehead. "The opportunity of having the synergy to fold two buildings into one will make it more cost-effective.

"Customer service and in-flight [training] work hand-in-hand on a day-to-day basis," Whitehead continued. "This starts them there from the very beginning."

As many airlines are moving toward "going green," Whitehead said the new building will have modern plumbing and better insulation, thus reducing energy costs and water consumption.

"We've tried to build in the latest technology," said Whitehead. "Anything that is built today functions much better and costs much less to operate. This will help us take care of our customers in the best fashion possible."