Press Releases

Sea-Tac Airport’s Top Official & Larsen Discuss Alleviating Congestion, Improving Consumer Experience As Part of Hearing on FAA Reauthorization

Upcoming Federal Aviation Administration bill could help airports like Sea-Tac expand number of gates, better meet growing passenger volume

In a hearing of the House Aviation Subcommittee, Sea-Tac Airport Managing Director Lance Lyttle, and the Subcommittee’s top-Ranking Democrat, Rep. Rick Larsen (WA-02), discussed ways to alleviate congestion and improve user experience at Sea-Tac as part of upcoming efforts to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Today’s hearing – which focused on boosting investments in the nation’s airports – was the second of five hearings focused on reauthorizing the FAA. The agency’s authority expires in September 2017.

 WATCH: Larsen’s opening remarks and an exchange between Larsen and Lyttle

“Many of my constituents and tens of millions of others rely on Sea-Tac each year for air travel. Mr. Lyttle, I look forward to hearing from you today in particular about the needs and challenges Sea-Tac faces as it undergoes its long-term capital improvement plan to modernize facilities, alleviate congestion – which I know is a serious issue at Sea-Tac – as well as improve the consumer experience,” said Larsen.

Lyttle pointed out that Sea-Tac’s ability to avoid being a “chokepoint” is limited in part because the airport “just does not have enough gates. During peak times we cannot accommodate all the airlines at the airport... gates are our biggest challenge.” To alleviate congestion, Lyttle highlighted Sea-Tac’s planned capital improvement projects which will “add eight additional gates to the airport, create a direct connection to the terminal for international travelers and more than double North Satellite dining and retail establishments.”

However, according to Lyttle’s opening remarks, gains will be short-lived unless Sea-Tac adds additional gates to meet the airport’s explosive growth, which is forecasted to reach 66 million annual passengers by 2034. “Sea-Tac will need to add 35 more gates, dramatically expand ticketing/check-in facilities, and substantially rebuild airport access roadways,” expansions which Lyttle said could be possible if Congress gives airports greater funding flexibility – through changes to key funding streams such as the Passenger Facility Charge and the Airport Improvement Program – in upcoming legislation reauthorizing the FAA.

Earlier this month, Larsen helped lead a hearing where he emphasized that reforming aircraft certification should be included in the next FAA reauthorization. According to the state of Washington, in 2014 the aerospace industry generated over $85 billion in economic activity across the state and more than 1,300 aerospace businesses supported 260,000+ jobs. Larsen has pushed for a long-term, comprehensive FAA reauthorization and called for reforms to streamline the FAA certification process that will help U.S. manufacturers become more competitive and create jobs by saving time, making products safer and transporting them to market more quickly.