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Sea-Tac’s North Satellite to undergo $230 million overhaul

Post by John Gillie / The News Tribune on July 25, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
July 25, 2012 1:23 pm

Sea-Tac Airport’s 40-year-old North Satellite Terminal will undergo an estimated $230 million remodeling and expansion to bring the terminal up to 21st century standards, the airport’s owner announced this week.

The Port of Seattle Commission this week gave final approval to begin designs for the terminal renovation. Actual construction is expected to start in 2014 with completion two years later. The terminal will remain open during the overhaul.

Sea-Tac North Satellite
Sea-Tac’s North Satellite Terminal

In addition to the upgrade, the North Satellite also undergo a change in usage with Sea-Tac’s biggest airline, Alaska Airlines, becoming the terminal’s sole tenant. The terminal was built in the early ’70s. It then was occupied almost exclusively by United Airlines, then the airport’s biggest tenant.

Over the last decade, Alaska has moved more of its operations into the terminal and as United’s presence has shrunk.

The remodeling program will also add three gates and a new penthouse club for Alaska frequent fliers to the building.

Some of Alaska’s operations will remain in the C Concourse as well as part of the D Concourse, though the airline will largely vacate gates on D allowing those gates to be converted into common user gates that can be used by multiple airlines.

“This project directly addresses our Century Agenda goal to meet the region’s air transportation needs at Sea-Tac Airport for the next 25 years,” said Commission President Gael Tarleton. “The north satellite is 40 years old and has had only limited upgrades. It’s due.”

“With more gates, ramp area and other facilities needed to grow the airline, the investments in the North Satellite will enhance the travel experience for our customers and employees and greatly improve our operational efficiency,” said Karen Gruen, Alaska Airlines’ managing director of corporate real estate.

In deciding to relocate Alaska Airlines to the North Satellite, Gruen said the company carefully weighed perceptions by some travelers that getting to North Satellite gates from Alaska’s ticket counter takes longer than departures on Concourse C.

Three studies conducted in recent years indicate it takes about the same amount of time to reach the North Satellite riding the train as it does to walk to the gates at the end of Concourse C. In order to ease traveler anxiety about waiting for the train, improvements to the communications systems for the train and train lobbies are planned, the port said.

Among the changes the port says will happen during the remodeling process are:

• Upgrades, renewal and replacement of mechanical, electrical, communications, HVAC, and plumbing systems
• Seismic upgrades
• Refreshed main concourse finishes to include more natural lighting, open areas, and passenger amenities including charging stations, LCD flight displays, better WiFi reception, and expanded concessions
• A rooftop Alaska Airlines Board Room with views of the Puget Sound area
• Addition of three aircraft gates for a total of 15
• Refreshed Satellite Transit System lobbies
• Dual aircraft taxi lane changes around the north satellite
• Refurbishment of the baggage handling system

Alaska and the Port of Seattle, the airport’s owner, will share the cost of the renovation. The port estimates its portion of the project will cost about $194 million. That money will be raised by rental and landing fees charged airline tenants. No taxes will be used to pay the project costs.

Alaska will fund building out the interior of its new roof-top lounge and employee spaces at the north satellite. Final financial figures will be determined as design is completed.

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