SEA-TAC AIRPORT - In the two hours between 11am and 1 pm, nine international flights arrive at Sea-Tac's international arrivals hall, and they're all big jets. Each jet holds from 250 to more than 300 passengers.
Because of the airlines' schedules, it's not considered possible to spread those flights out. The nine flights constitute half of the airport's 18 daily international arrivals from Asia, Europe and the Middle East.
The Port of Seattle, which owns and operates the airport, says the 1971-built facility located in the basement of the airport's south satellite is at its limits. The airport is now adding three new international flights each year and has seen its midday peak more than double since 2004. Another direct flight by Delta airlines to London Heathrow was announced just Tuesday, with plans to begin service in March 2014.
On Tuesday the port rolled out early renditions of its plan to build a long suspended sky-bridge between the south satellite and a new international arrivals hall on the east side of the A concourse. It's a sky bridge taller than a 747s tail. The plan includes converting five more gates on the A Concourse to international arrivals, which by 2018 would bring the airport's total for international capable gates to 17.
Airport officials estimate the cost of the new facility would range from around $300 million to over $400 million. A tunnel under the airport ramp is another alternative.