United Airlines held a Jan. 17 ribbon-cutting at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in celebration of its newly expanded 56,000-square-foot Global Inflight Training Center.

The $32 million expansion project more than doubles the size of the facility with the addition of new classrooms, additional cabin and door training stations, and an aquatic center featuring a 125,000-gallon pool that will allow flight attendant trainees to practice safe evacuation strategies in the case of a water landing, officials said.

According to United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby, the air travel provider plans on hiring and training 15,000 people nationwide through the new facility in 2023. Kirby noted the training center will bring an estimated 1,800 jobs to the Greater Houston area this year.

“The flight attendants are the face of United Airlines,” Kirby said during the ribbon-cutting event. “How they, in particular, make customers feel is by far the most important thing that we do because we're a part of the most important moments of so many people's lives.”

During the ceremony, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner acknowledged the economic impact United Airlines has had on the Greater Houston area.

“[United Airlines is], if not the largest, very close to the largest employer that we have in the city,” Turner said. “The Global Inflight Training Center is the largest of seven [United Airlines training centers], and that bodes well for the city.”

United Airline officials noted new flight attendants are required to go through a 6 1/2-week training course and to return for additional training every 18 months.

The Global Inflight Training Center also includes inflight services training spaces with mock seats, a 400-plus seat auditorium and a public address room where trainees can practice their onboard announcements.

The new training center is coming as work continues on George Bush Intercontinental Airport's $1.3 billion Terminal Redevelopment Program, which officials said will aim to expand the airport's international footprint.

For more information, visit www.united.com or call 307-224-4791.