Alaska Airlines invests US$2.3bn into West Coast airports

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Approximately US$2.3bn in infrastructure upgrades are underway at Alaska Airline’s hub airports along the West Coast – including Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) in Washington, Portland International Airport (PDX) in Oregon, and San Francisco (SFO) and Los Angeles (LAX) international airports in California.

At SEA, the first phase of a major terminal project is expected to modernize and increase capacity in the airline’s ticketing area and security checkpoint. The project has been designed to create a more open, light-filled space with fewer lines.

As part of a new partnership with the airport’s operator Port of Seattle, Alaska Airlines will manage the overall US$400m project with the first, US$149m phase set to begin in spring 2022. The total costs will be paid for by both Alaska and the Port of Seattle. This comes amid the recently completed US$700m expansion and modernization of the N Concourse that serves mostly Alaska flights.

Also at SEA, the airline will invest approximately US$7m for upgrades of its lounges over the next two years. Firstly, it will remodel and expand its C Concourse lounge which is scheduled to begin this spring. After that expanded lounge opens, Alaska Airlines plans to overhaul its D Concourse lounge. As part of the Port of Seattle’s C Concourse expansion project, the airline will open an Alaska Lounge in 2026. It will eventually become the primary lounge for its guests departing from C and D Concourses.

Shane Jones, vice president of real estate and airport development for Alaska Airlines, said, “We’re excited to transform the conventional lobby into a modern, airy and easy-to-navigate space for our guests and employees. This three-year project is the largest airport renovation in our history. It aims to support our innovation, sustainability and long-term growth plans at our hometown hub.”

At SFO, the airline will relocate its entire operation within the airport in 2024 – including its check-in ticket counter, gates and baggage services – from Terminal 2 to Harvey Milk Terminal 1. This will place the airline closer to American Airlines flights, which is expected to increase the ease with which passengers reach their connecting flights.

The move was also made to increase the sustainability of the airline’s operations at this airport.

Harvey Milk Terminal 1 is the newest terminal at SFO and uses 60% less energy than comparable facilities. The new gates will give the airline shorter taxi times and faster access to the runways – saving time and burning less fuel.

Tim Horn, director of station operations at SFO for Alaska Airlines, said, “Harvey Milk Terminal 1 is, hands down, probably the coolest airport terminal in the nation. Our guests and employees will love traveling through the open, modern space and especially enjoy all the eatery options that include popular Pacific Rim restaurants.”

At PDX, the airline will invest nearly US$1.5m in a 14,000ft2 lounge that will replace its current facility in 2025-2026. This will enlarge its current space by 1,000ft2 with the addition of an enclosed patio area. Alaska Airlines is also adding a temporary ‘express lounge’ at Concourse B.

The airport has also remodeled Concourse B for US$115m to make the space easier to get around. The concourse now has floor-to-ceiling windows to allow more sunlight and better views. Upgraded technology has been added throughout the concourse including hundreds of power outlets and faster wi-fi. A US$1.6bn project to remodel and expand its main terminal is currently underway by the Port of Portland. This expansion will include security checkpoints, a streamlined check-in process, and additional dining and retail options.

At LAX, improvements totaling US$230m are underway at Terminal 6 where Alaska is situated. The project will overhaul the gate areas, including new carpet, lighting, seating with power outlets and signage. The work at LAX will continue in phases through 2023 with the addition of 20% more gates and more than 15,000 ft2 of space.

“The guest experience is at the heart of everything we do, and the focus of this project is to improve every step of the journey,” Jones said. “From modern expanded gate areas with powered seating to improving our operational performance with key infrastructure upgrades, including two new gates, this investment is all about the Alaska guest.”

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As the latest addition to the UKi Media & Events team, Elizabeth brings research skills from her English degree to her keen interest in the meteorological and transportation industries. Having taken the lead in student and startup publications, she has gained experience in editing online and print titles on a wide variety of topics. In her current role as Editorial Assistant, Elizabeth will create new and topical content on the pioneering technologies in transportation, logistics and meteorology.

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