Boeing ends lease for flight training facility near Hartsfield-Jackson

AirTran First Officer Travis Wood is in the right seat (blue shirt) of a Boeing 717 simulator receiving instruction from Captain Robert Wittenberg left seat (green shirt) at AirTran’s training facility in Atlanta on Oct. 7, 2010. Handout photo.
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AirTran First Officer Travis Wood is in the right seat (blue shirt) of a Boeing 717 simulator receiving instruction from Captain Robert Wittenberg left seat (green shirt) at AirTran’s training facility in Atlanta on Oct. 7, 2010. Handout photo.

Boeing is ending a long-term lease on 6.2 acres near Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport that it once used for a flight training facility.

The aerospace company's U.S. training and flight services unit is terminating a lease on property near Godby Road and Old National Highway in College Park. The lease dates back to 2003 and was set to run through 2040. Years ago, Boeing prepaid $744,000 for all rent on the property.

But Boeing moved out of the facility in 2016, and says it had “determined that the building no longer fit into the company’s long-term real estate property plans for the state/region.”

Hartsfield-Jackson, which owns the land and is run by the City of Atlanta, is putting the facility back up for lease.

Atlanta airport deputy general manager Michael Smith told the Atlanta City Council transportation committee that Boeing attempted to lease the facility, “but that fell through,” so the airport will take the property back.

When plans for the $75 million training center were announced in 2003, it was described as a way to help communities around the airport. Fulton County, College Park and Atlanta worked together to attract the facility with incentives that included a 10-year exemption from full property taxes.

The center opened in 2004 with flight simulators for Boeing 717 and 737 jets that pilots for AirTran Airways and other airlines used for training.

But AirTran was acquired by Dallas-based Southwest Airlines in 2011.

Simulators from the facility have been relocated to other locations, including Boeing training facilities in China and in the United Kingdom. Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines, which in 2013 struck a deal with Southwest to take over the 717 fleet formerly operated by AirTran, has two 717 simulators at its pilot training facility.