Postal Service officials say a new post office facility that has begun operation at the Salt Lake International Airport will help speed the delivery of first-class mail to and from Utah.

The Fletcher F. Acord Air Mail Facility, located south of the Main Terminal, plans a formal open house May 10.It features an air contracting data collecting system that, with the help of a laser scanner, determines the best flight for each particular dispatch of mail, weighs the mail and keeps track of cumulative amounts for billing purposes.

The building also houses the only post office in Utah that never closes. The post office has computerized window scales that quickly determine postage amounts and do record keeping.

The new air mail facility will operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It will handle more than 300,000 pounds of mail a day that come into the facility and leave on 225 airplanes, including 15 commercial airlines and air cargo companies, and more than 60 trucks.

Modern computerized conveyor belts rush mail through the facility, and special containerized packaging speeds the delivery of mail between the facility and planes and trucks.

Brent H. Noorda, manager of the new $3.4 million facility, said 65 to 70 employees will work in the new building. In addition to first-class air mail, employees also handle priority mail, special delivery and express mail.

Noorda said the building is named for Provo native Fletcher F. Acord, who was associate postmaster general of the United States - the third highest ranking position in the Postal Service - when he died last January of a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 56.

From 1980 to 1985, Acord worked in Salt Lake City as district manager of the Postal Service's Western Slopes District and directed postal operations in Utah, Montana, most of Idaho and parts of Oregon and Nevada.

Noorda said the facility was designed by Holland-Pasker and Associates, Murray, and constructed by Herm Hughes and Sons, West Bountiful.

The new building, which has 42,000 square feet of floor space, is more than four times as large as the old facility it replaces.

"The Fletcher F. Acord Air Mail Facility will enable the Postal Service to keep up with growing mail volume - 154 billion pieces last year nationwide - and process incoming and outgoing mail faster and with fewer work hours," Noorda said.