Port of Seattle Authorizes Major Renovation of North Satellite at Sea-Tac
The Port of Seattle Commission announced Tuesday (July 24) that it has given final design authorization for an estimated $230 million renovation of the north satellite at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to better serve passengers.
The project will include modernizing facilities, seismic upgrades, enhanced traveler amenities, three new gates and a new roof-top lounge for Alaska Airlines, soon to be the sole tenant in the north satellite.
North STAR Design is projected to be complete in the Fall of 2014, with construction starting in Winter 2014. Construction is scheduled to be completed in late 2016.
“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.”
The North Sea-Tac Airport Renovations (or North STAR project) will be an unprecedented working arrangement between the port and Alaska Airlines, Sea-Tac’s largest airline. Alaska will work with the port throughout the project with the goal of improving its customers’ experience from airport drop-off to flight departure. Additional renovations will include various improvements to the main terminal, the C and D concourses, and the airfield.
“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. “The North STAR partnership with the Port of Seattle is an investment in our future and community.”
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 lobby 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.
Built in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the north satellite is in need of modernization, renewal or replacement of many of its basic systems. The renovations will provide significant annual energy savings with the heating/air conditioning (HVAC) upgrades and use of natural light. Greater operational efficiency will also be achieved with the inclusion of dual taxilanes for aircraft access to and from the gates.
Overall, the renovation will include:
- 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 Air Group will continue to use concourses C and D for operations as well, which will receive upgrades to the current Horizon Air-operated facilities.
The renovation will be completed in stages to carefully coordinate the construction around continued operation of the north satellite and create the least impact to passenger traffic.
Design contracts will be awarded soon and visual renderings for the project are expected to be released by mid-2013. Construction is expected to start no later than winter of 2014 with completion in late 2016. [final construction schedules are still to be determined]
Funding for the project will come from a combination of airline rates and the Airport Development Fund. As with virtually all airport projects, no Port of Seattle taxes will be used. America’s airports are largely self-sustaining with revenues coming from fees paid by passengers, landing fees, space rental fees, and federal grants.
The estimated cost breakdown for the port’s portion of the renovation is $194 million. Alaska’s portion of the work will include building out the interior of its new roof-top lounge and employee spaces at the north satellite. Final financial figures are still to be determined as design is completed.
Today’s Commission action authorized $32 million for design and project management services for the project. Additional actions will be requested as the project progresses.
Alaska Airlines will become the sole user of the north satellite as part of an airline realignment scheduled to be completed in 2013. The realignment will move ticket counters and gate locations for several airlines to make efficient use of the airport. The realignment is necessary due to airline mergers and the need for Alaska Air Group to consolidate operations at the north satellite. The public will see six airlines (American, Frontier, Hawaiian, jetBlue, United/Continental, and Virgin America) move from their current spaces to new locations. No service interruptions will affect passengers or operations.
North STAR Project Timeline:
- North STAR Design Complete: Fall 2014
- Construction Start: Winter 2014
- North START Construction Complete: Late 2016