Washington Senator, Maria Cantwell, joined Port of Seattle officials, Alaska Airlines and labour representatives to pull a rope bringing down the west end of the current facility where the expansion will take place.
The $550 million expansion and renovation of the north satellite will include adding eight new gates with a 240-foot extension of the building to the west.
It will also add an upper level mezzanine, more than double the existing dining and retail square footage, and introduce a rooftop Alaska Airlines lounge with views of the Olympic Mountains.
The phase one expansion is scheduled to be open in 2019 followed by the renovation of the current facility to be 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 travellers, 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.”
Although the official figures for the US's top 10 airports are not yet in, Sea-Tac is confident that it is now the ninth busiest airport in the country based on the 45.7 million passengers to pass through its facilities in 2016.
“The groundbreaking underscores the significant economic opportunities Sea-Tac Airport provides to our region and our state,” noted 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 project 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 programme already completed are refurbished satellite baggage systems servicing the north satellite and new Concourse C exterior walkways for a package of work totalling $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 continue to grow and invest at Sea-Tac," said Andrew Harrison, executive vice president and chief commercial officer at Alaska Airlines.
"Our investment in the North Satellite is one of the largest we have made in decades and sets the stage for more to come.
“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.”
North Satellite Modernization is projected to create more than 5,100 jobs during the construction.
In addition, the doubling of airport dining and retail space will provide more business and job opportunities.
Acccording to Sea-Tac, the design for the North Satellite takes references from the existing airport’s architectural vocabulary of materials, colours and articulated roof forms and creates a strong new addition to the overall airport.
It adds that the expansion and renovation of the North Satellite will improve operational efficiency, and enhance the travel experience with more concessions, seating areas, power outlets and other amenities.
Alaska Airlines will maintain Horizon Air regional flights out of Concourse C, which provides fast, easy and direct connection to the North Satellite through the satellite train system.
Operations at the North Satellite will continue throughout the construction process. The first phase will build out the extension to the west of the current building. Once that is complete in 2019, the second phase will renovate and upgrade the eastern portion of the building.