Alaska Airlines says Sea-Tac Airport expansion could worsen congestion

Discussion:

(KIRO 7)

The Sea-Tac Airport $2.3 billion expansion is partly being done in an effort to mitigate the rapidly increasing foot and vehicle traffic, but according to Alaska Airlines, the plan has critical issues and will potentially increase congestion.

The airport is looking to launch an automated security process in the future along with 19 additional gates and a second terminal, among other expansions.

Sea-Tac Airport pushing forward with expansion plans

But Alaska officials believe the plan for a 19-gate terminal would utterly disconnect passengers from the rest of the airport’s core operations, thereby frustrating passengers and making it one of the most congested airports in the U.S., reports the Puget Sound Business Journal.

In 2018, approximately 50 million people passed took flight to or from Sea-Tac, and 60 percent more planes are expected to land there by 2034.

Search to find a second airport gains traction

“This isolated terminal would require passengers moving between terminals to use a bus or automated people mover to reach the other terminal, as well as go through separate security screening in each terminal, severely challenging flight connections and passenger convenience,” said Shane Jones, Alaska’s vice president of airport real estate and development in a letter to Sea-Tac.

Alaska Airlines also contends that Sea-Tac Airport is not on land big enough to sustain the expansion for a major airport, citing airports like Dallas-Fort Worth Airport (on 20,000 acres) and Denver International Airport (on 40,000). Sea-Tac sits on 2,500 acres of property.

The Port of Seattle Commission President hasn’t said a great deal as of yet, merely replying by saying it was “factually incorrect” to claim the terminal will lack connectivity to the rest of the airport.

“It would be misguided to bring all 19 gates online in 2027 with no plan to increase the capacity of the airfield or surrounding airspace,” the Alaska Airlines letter went on to say.