How Seattle Won Air France

Successfully developing that route can require the expenditure of millions of dollars in marketing and operational funds.

Over the last decades a number of foreign carriers such as Finnair, Thai Airways, Aeroflot, Mexicana, JAL and China Eastern have come and gone from Sea-Tac. Why did they leave? Why will new carriers come here and stay?

There are a couple of things that are in play here. Some of that has to do with the technology. If you were crossing the Pacific, you'd have to land in someplace like Seattle, Los Angeles, Vancouver or San Francisco. If you were going to Chicago from Bangkok, you couldn't get there from there. The aircraft didn't have the range. So you had to go to the U.S. West Coast and pick up a domestic carrier from there. That's no longer true. Seattle benefited for a while, but now, with longer-range planes, if there is enough traffic from a city in the interior, an airline will route a plane there directly, bypassing the coastal cities. But with the coming of such planes as the new Boeing 787, a middle-sized plane with the range to reach anywhere in the world, airlines are looking at flying more point-to-point nonstop flights, and Seattle will benefit from that new technology.

What new routes are on Sea-Tac's want list?

We look at this from the perspective of what cities have a great deal of traffic that are not served nonstop out of Seattle. That's how we evaluate our targets. High on that list in Asia are Bejing in China, Hong Kong and Singapore. In the Philippines, Manila is high on the list. So we're in conversations with several airlines about each of those cities. I would not be surprised if there were some additional trans-Pacific service within the year.

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