Breaking News
More () »

'Inspansion': With no room to build out, Sea-Tac Airport is building upward

Sea-Tac Airport is growing. The issue is that it can't expand outward anymore, so many of the projects are going upward instead.

SEATTLE — It’s always a rush at the airport, from parking to getting through security. The Seattle-Tacoma International Airport has grown exponentially when it comes to passengers.

“It reflects the growth that’s taking place in the region which is a good thing,” said Managing Director of Aviation at the Port of Seattle Lance Lyttle.

In the five years before the pandemic, passenger traffic increased by 43%, making it one of the fastest growing in the country. 

“The more passengers we have coming through the airport is actually the more economic opportunity that we’re creating,” said Lyttle.

The issue is that the airport can't expand outward as it is up against three cities. Sitting at 2,500 acres, Sea-Tac is much smaller compared to other airports like Denver which has more than 33,000 acres.

“Because we cannot go out, we’re going up,” said Lyttle who said they're calling it 'inspansion.' The FAA needs to sign off on any expansion upward. 

The newly opened International Arrivals Facility and the N. Concourse are finished examples of what the airport is looking to do more of, with future projects already in the works. 

“The major one that is probably the best example of 'inspansion' is C1 or C concourse expansion,” said Lyttle. The renovation will add four floors between concourses C and D.

There’s also the South Satellite renovation still in the design phase. 

“That’s probably going to be the biggest project in the history of the airport,” said Lyttle.

The Port of Seattle will have to work on half of the South Satellite Renovation at a time. 

“It takes a lot more time but we really have no choice because we need to keep the airport running while we’re doing all of these construction projects,” said Lyttle.

Plus necessary projects like newly designed and opened bathrooms and restaurants are being added. It’s been nonstop construction. 

“I feel like I’m running a construction company and I have a little airport on the side but at every airport I’ve ever worked, it’s the same thing, airports are always under construction because we always have to replace and renew the existing facility and build new facilities. The construction never ends,” said Lyttle.

Before You Leave, Check This Out