Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Port Will Revisit Plans For A New International Arrivals Facility At Sea-Tac Airport

Robert Karma
Delta Air Lines is one of the airlines pushing for a new international arrivals facility at Sea-Tac International Airport

The port of Seattle and airlines agree – improvements at the airport are needed to handle growing numbers of international passengers. But a central question remains:  who pays for the expansion? 

Traffic at Sea-Tac International Airport has been booming and is expected to keep climbing. But there’s dispute among airlines about how to pay for a new international arrivals facility, which would be a spot for people go through customs and pick up their baggage.

Alaska Airlines, United Airlines, American Airlines and other airlines recently sent a letter to the port commission saying the upgrade should be paid for primarily by users of the facility and not shouldered by domestic passengers, fir example.

In response, the port commission has now voted to take a fresh look at the project over the next 90 days, with input from all airlines. 

"I would love to have a circumstance where we can come up with hopefully a compromise, but we’ve got to build this facility and we have to move forward," Port Commissioner Stephanie Bowman said.

The projected cost of the project has swelled to more than $600 million, from an earlier estimate of about $350 million.

Airlines such as Alaska say the project mostly benefits Delta Air Lines, which has been rapidly expanding at Sea-Tac and adding domestic and international routes.

A Delta spokeswoman says the airport needs a new international arrivals building to help cement the Puget Sound region’s status as a quote “global commerce center.”

In July 2017, Ashley Gross became KNKX's youth and education reporter after years of covering the business and labor beat. She joined the station in May 2012 and previously worked five years at WBEZ in Chicago, where she reported on business and the economy. Her work telling the human side of the mortgage crisis garnered awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. She's also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage and for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.