Director Looking Forward at Sea-Tac

Sea-Tac Airport Director Mark Reis discusses his perspective on questions surrounding the high costs of operations.


There was a comment made during the discussion about Southwest that the restrooms in the new Central Terminal were nicer than the restrooms in the boardroom at Microsoft. Well, board members of Microsoft are not pulling carry-on luggage behind them.

And you don't have 28 or 30 million of them going through the restrooms every year. They don't have parents with children using them. We're building different things. We would be appropriately chastised if we built schlocky restrooms.

Q: Southwest mentioned it had just moved into a new concourse in Tampa that was built at a cost that was a fraction of the cost of Sea-Tac's new A Concourse. Why the difference in costs?

A: Not only did we have to take a terminal down, but we also had to take a hangar down and an additional maintenance building down. We had mitigation costs regarding airline contamination of the soils.

We built it right over the top of the subway tunnel. And we built an office structure. We added 300 feet of ticketing, and we rebuilt fully one-third of the airport's baggage system all for the number that they built just a straight, 16-gate terminal.

Q: Sea-Tac's controversial third runway will cost an estimated $1.2 billion. The airport's detractors say that runway, now under construction, is a waste of money. Has Southwest's challenge to your costs changed your mind about the need for that project?

A: There are times when the fog moves in and we are reduced to one stream of traffic (because the existing runways are too close together). There are very real costs attached to that especially with the high cost of fuel. The airlines will pay for the runway. They will more than pay for the runway in operating-cost savings.

Name: Mark Reis

Title: Director, Sea-Tac

Age: 54

Home: Ballard

Education: Bachelor's degree in environmental studies, Western Washington University; master's degree in public administration, Harvard University.

Career: Appointed airport managing director May 2004. Reis formerly served as the airport's deputy managing director and director of marine finance and business development for the Port of Seattle. Before joining the port in 1988, Reis was executive director of the Northwest Conservation Coalition and the Northwest Renewable Resources Center.

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