Sanford hopes to land airline training center

Allegiant Air (website | Facebook) is considering Sanford as the site for the airline’s East Coast training center, which is projected train up to 500 pilots and crew members per year.

The airline has not released a list of cities it is contemplating for the training facility, but Airports Worldwide Inc. (website) President Larry Gouldthorpe confirmed Sanford is a finalist. Airports Worldwide operates the domestic and international terminals for the Sanford Airport Authority.

Larry Gouldthorpe, president of Airports Worldwide Inc.
Larry Gouldthorpe, president of Airports Worldwide

“We are in competition with a couple of other cities,” said Gouldthorpe. “We feel we have a very strong case to make in terms of what our airport offers. Allegiant is comparing business terms at this point.”

Allegiant launches about 165 flights a week out of Orlando Sanford International Airport. That’s more flights than any airport in Allegiant’s network, including Las Vegas where the company is headquartered.

A decision could come within 30 days. Allegiant has not publicly announced a timeline, but Gouldthorpe said airline officials have told him they would like the training center to be operational by early 2017.

“The timeline is really tight, because a facility would have to be built,” said Gouldthorpe.

In August, Allegiant opened a 17,500-square-foot training center at its headquarters in Las Vegas. The East Coast facility could be at least that large, and possibly up to three times that size to accommodate simulators and classrooms for pilots and flight attendant.

If Sanford is selected, the training center would be located south of the airport on land owned by Airports Worldwide. A training center could also lead to additional development opportunities on the property.

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