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Chuck Taylor |
Published: Tuesday, July 24, 2012, 3:09 p.m.

Sea-Tac north terminal to be renovated

  • The North Satellite at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

    Alaska Airlines

    The North Satellite at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Alaska Airlines today announced a $230 million renovation of the North Satellite terminal at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, the cost of which will be shared with the Port of Seattle. Alaska will become the sole tenant of N gates, in addition to gates in Concourses C and D.

The cost to the Port of Seattle will be $194 million, according to a news release we've pasted below.

Along with general refurbishment, improvements will be made to increase natural lighting and three new gates will be added to the 12 existing ones. Alaska will have a rooftop lounge for premium travelers.

The North Satellite was built in the late-1960s and early 1970s. For many years it was dominated by United Airlines, but Alaska has gradually been moving in. Like the South Satellite, it is detached from the main terminal and is accessed by way of an automated subway system, which was rebuilt a few years ago.

Alaska is the carrier with the biggest presence at Sea-Tac. The company's corporate headquarters is nearby.

Design of the North Satellite renovation is to be complete in about a year, with construction complete in late-2016.

Port of Seattle Authorizes Major Renovation of North Satellite at Sea-Tac

Forty-year-old facility to receive estimated $230 million upgrade

7/24/2012 2:28:38 PM

SEATTLE – The Port of Seattle Commission gave final design authorization today 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. "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 taxi lanes 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]

Budget 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. Airline Realignment 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

An image of the North Satellite is available for download at

About Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

Operated by the Port of Seattle, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA, KSEA) is ranked as the 16th largest U.S. airport, serving more than 32.8 million passengers in 2011. With a regional economic impact of more than $13.2 billion in business revenue, Sea-Tac generates more than 161,000 jobs (89,902 direct jobs) representing more than $2.2 billion in direct earnings and $412.4 million in state and local taxes. Twenty-six airlines serve 75 non-stop domestic destinations and 21 international cities.

The Port of Seattle is setting the course for the future with the Century Agenda. In 25 years, we will generate 100,000 new jobs and increase international trade and tourism, while protecting the environment with innovative sustainability initiatives. Learn more about how the region's economic engine will keep powering King County's economy for years to come!

About Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air, subsidiaries of Alaska Air Group (NYSE: ALK), together serve more than 90 cities through an expansive network in Alaska, the Lower 48, Hawaii, Canada and Mexico. Alaska Airlines has ranked "Highest in Customer Satisfaction Among Traditional Network Carriers" in the J.D. Power and Associates North America Airline Satisfaction StudySM for five consecutive years from 2008 to 2012. For reservations, visit For more news and information, visit the Alaska Airlines/Horizon Air Newsroom at
Story tags » TransportationAir travelTourismTravelSeaTac

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