SEATTLE — The Port of Seattle held an official groundbreaking ceremony at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport for the airport’s North Satellite Modernization Project. At an event last week, Washington State Senator Maria Cantwell, Port officials, Alaska Airlines executives, and labor representatives together pulled down the final gate marker on the west wall together to officially break ground on the four-year project.


The $550 million expansion and renovation of the north satellite will add an additional eight gates for Alaska Airlines to use which will allow the local airline to potentially add an additional 50 flights a day to the already busy hub. In total the north satellite will be extended by 240-feet to the west, add an upper-level mezzanine which will more than double the current existing dining and retail square footage.


Alaska Airlines also plans to add a state of the art lounge that will include a rooftop lounge with a view of the Olympic Mountains. Phase one will be completed and open in 2019 while phase two which is the renovation of the current facility will be completed and open in 2021.


“Passenger needs are changing – back in 1973, when this building was built, no one needed speedy wi-fi or power outlets to charge their mobile devices,” said Port of Seattle Commissioner Stephanie Bowman. “This project represents benefits not just for travelers, but also for the broader community, including more jobs in construction and airport industries, future opportunities for entrepreneurs in dining and retail businesses, sophisticated building plans to lessen our environmental impact and an artistic vision that our community can be proud of.”

Last month the Port of Seattle announced that Sea-Tac airport had jumped up to the ninth busiest airport in the US, breaking it previous record for sixth consecutive year for an increased passenger traffic. Overall it was an eight percent increase over 2015 to 45.7 million passengers for 2016 when Sea-Tac was ranked the 13th busiest airport at that time. With such a boost in flyers, Sea-Tac leaped frogged past Houston, Phoenix, Miami, and Charlotte on the rankings. Overall Sea-Tac is averaging 125,000 passengers a day with all the additional flights from Alaska Airlines and Delta Air Lines.


“Today’s groundbreaking underscores the significant economic opportunities Sea-Tac Airport provides to our region and our state,” said Senator Cantwell. “Improving our airports is important not only for travel efficiency and safety but also for attracting more businesses and investment to the region.”

The North Satellite Modernization is an unprecedented working arrangement between the Port and Alaska Airlines, Sea-Tac’s largest airline and the sole tenant of the North Satellite. Alaska is working with the Port with the goal of improving the flying experience from airport drop-off to departure. Related projects in the Modernization program already completed are refurbished satellite baggage systems servicing the north satellite and new Concourse C exterior walkways for a package of work totaling $606 million.

Alaska is set to spend $41 million on the interior of the lounge, additional work space, and other various improvements. Additional enhancements by Alaska Airlines include the roll-out of the new look and branding in the ticketing and gate areas and a newly painted maintenance hangar.

“As Seattle’s hometown airline, Alaska is committed to continuing to grow and invest at Sea-Tac. Our investment in the North Satellite is one of the largest we have made in decades and sets the stage for more to come,” said Andrew Harrison, executive vice president and chief commercial officer at Alaska Airlines. “The North Satellite will embody our Northwest roots while providing modern amenities to make the travel experience exceptional for our guests. In addition to the 15,000-square foot rooftop lounge on the North Satellite, we will also be opening a third lounge on Concourse C in May.”


The North Satellite Modernization is projected to create more than 5,100 jobs during its construction. With the doubling of space at the North Satellite, it is also expected that with more dining and retail space the airport will be able to add more full-time jobs on top of the 18,500 people already working at the airport.

“This investment will result in the creation of a lot of good, family-wage jobs for the skilled craftspeople who are our members,” said Monty Anderson, Executive Secretary of Seattle Building & Construction Trades Council. “These are the kind of jobs that bring strength and diversity to the local economy – and have been the foundation for our community for years.”