United today opened in Houston its largest Inflight Training Center, a 56,000 sq. ft. facility that includes new classrooms, additional cabin and door trainers and a state-of-the-art aquatic center that features a 125,000-gallon pool and mock fuselage to practice the safe evacuation of the plane in the unlikely event of a water landing. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner joined United CEO Scott Kirby at a ceremonial ribbon cutting event in Houston to officially open the new training center.
The $32 million expansion project more than doubles the available training space and supports the airline’s plan to hire and train a total of 15,000 people in 2023, including 4,000 flight attendants.
United plans to train more than 600 flight attendants per month at the newly expanded Houston facility and the expansion project is another example of United’s focus on long-term investments in infrastructure, tools and technology to support its United Next growth plan as well as the airline’s continued commitment to Houston.
“The best flight attendants in the industry deserve the best, most modern training facility in the country,” said United CEO Scott Kirby. “This expansion project is yet another example of an investment we made during the depths of the pandemic that will support our employees, further improve our ability to deliver great service and set United up for success in 2023 and beyond.”
New United flight attendants will go through a six-week and a half training course at the Houston facility and then return every 18 months to stay current on their qualifications. The campus includes inflight service training spaces with mock seats, a 400+-seat auditorium and a public address room where trainees can practice their onboard announcements. The centerpiece of the building is a new Aquatic Center that includes a 125,000-gallon pool to practicing the safe evacuation of the plane in the unlikely event of a water landing.
As part of the construction of the facility, and in support of Mayor Turner’s climate action plan to build local storm-resilient infrastructure, United included an underground prefabricated storm detention vault that can hold more than 268,000 gallons of water and store stormwater runoff in large underground pipes or vaults.
“United continues to be a great partner and business leader in the city of Houston, connecting Houstonians to the world and investing in vital infrastructure projects that help enhance the travel experience for millions of travelers,” said Mayor Turner. “I congratulate United on opening its global Inflight Training Center, a testament to the region’s workforce and pro-business environment.”
Commitment to Houston
United has operated for more than 70 years from its hub at George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH).and is one of the largest employers with over 11,000 local employees and plans to hire 1,800 more in 2023. The airline maintains a corporate office presence downtown and is the leading carrier at George Bush Intercontinental/Houston Airport (IAH), with about 400 flights per day and more direct flights to Latin America and the Caribbean than any other airline.
According to a new study by Compass Lexecon, United’s IAH hub and spending by foreign visitors to Houston on United and Star Alliance member flights support an estimated $5.3 billion per year in gross domestic product in Texas and in 2022 United’s direct employment in Houston contributed $1.2 billion to economic activity. The study also showed that United’s Houston hub indirectly supported an additional 56,000 local jobs through airport and supply chain activity.
The airline’s ongoing investments and commitments to its Houston operation contribute to the positive, ripple-effect on the broader, local economy:
- As part of the City of Houston’s $1.3 billion Terminal Redevelopment Program (ITRP), United redesigned ticketing counters as well as new pre-check and CLEAR lanes, and state of the art TSA security checkpoint, which has become a model for the continued technological enhancements in the travel journey.
- United’s new Baggage Handling System services Terminals C and E and features state-of-the-art technology, including seven baggage carousels with corresponding high-tech displays, a complete replacement of the old outbound baggage system with a four-loop sorting system, as well as a new Baggage Control Center to monitor and manage the entire baggage handling operation.
- The airline’s Early Baggage System (EBS) facility is under construction, is expected to go online late this year and will be the first of its kind in North America – it temporarily stores bags that arrive early in a separate location until their specific departure. This new facility will allow United the flexibility to use all available gates and enable future growth at the airport.
- United recently launched Calibrate, a 36-month apprenticeship program to grow and diversify the airline’s pipeline of aircraft technicians and chose Houston for its first cohort. Through Calibrate, United plans to train 1,000 new aircraft technicians by 2026 – with a goal of at least half being women or people of color.
- United gave $590,000 in cash and in-kind contributions to Houston-area non-profits last year, including a longstanding relationship with the Houston Food Bank where employees volunteer to sort, box/bag food, and stack products for distribution.
- United’s collaboration with the Houston Independent School District is a cornerstone to United’s commitment to inspire a new generation of diverse aviation leaders. Fifty Sterling High School students currently enrolled in the school’s aviation program are partnered with Houston-based United employees who provided support and guidance as they look to pursue a career in the aviation industry, including pilots and aircraft mechanics.