SEATTLE, Aug. 23 /PRNewswire/ -- A group of neighborhood, business and regional leaders today announced the formation of Sound Air Alliance, a regional stakeholder group opposed to establishing commercial passenger service at King County International Airport (Boeing Field) in Seattle. The Alliance was formed in response to a recent Southwest Airlines proposal to build a passenger terminal and parking garage at Boeing Field in order to accommodate 85 Southwest flights a day. Boeing Field is owned and operated by King County.
"Establishing commercial passenger service at Boeing Field is a bad idea," said Alliance steering committee member Steve Leahy, President and CEO of the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce. "This broad stakeholder group has come together because we all agree there is no wisdom in having two busy commercial airports located a few miles apart and sharing the same airspace."
Alaska and Horizon Airlines have indicated they will be forced to operate as many as 100 combined daily flights at Boeing Field to compete with Southwest. As a result, 5.4 million passengers could pass through the airport every year to board passenger flights. At that level, Boeing Field would exceed annual passenger boardings at large and well-known airports such as Cleveland-Hopkins International, San Jose International, and Memphis International. Cleveland and Memphis airports serve as hubs for Continental Airlines and Northwest Airlines respectively.
Alliance members object to the use of taxpayer dollars that will be required for additional road improvements, additional aircraft noise mitigation in surrounding neighborhoods, new routes for Metro buses, and many other services needed to support the level of operations being proposed.
"Anyone looking at the proposal to turn Boeing Field into a busy commercial airport cannot, with a straight face, expect the public to believe that taxpayer dollars are not going to be required," said Bob Wallace, CEO of Wallace Properties in Bellevue and a member of the Alliance steering committee. "Scarce tax dollars, already stretched thin to fund important regional transportation projects, should not be stretched further to cover infrastructure for a project that is not a priority."
Alliance members pointed to long-standing regional planning that does not include the use of Boeing Field for commercial passenger operations. In 1996, the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) voted to meet the region's air capacity needs by supporting the addition of a new runway and facilities at Sea-Tac Airport. Over the past five years, regional leaders have reaffirmed the decision to keep Sea-Tac as the commercial passenger airport for the Puget Sound area for the foreseeable future.
"The decision about where to locate the next regional airport should be made right here, not in a Texas boardroom," said Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg, in a statement issued during today's news conference. "If Southwest Airlines moves to Boeing Field, it won't matter where we want the next gateway airport because other airlines will follow and the decision will be made for us."
Residents and neighborhood groups surrounding Boeing Field, as well as those from communities within the airport's flight path, are participating in Sound Air Alliance. They object to additional noise and environmental impacts that will result from the substantially high number of large aircraft operations that will take place if Boeing Field is opened to commercial passenger service.
As many as 185 takeoffs and 185 landings are anticipated daily if Southwest, Alaska, and Horizon Airlines operate the number of flights indicated in recent statements. This will result in a combined 370 takeoffs and landings daily.
"The concept of using Boeing Field as another commercial airport for our region defies common sense," said Mark Cooper, a Georgetown resident and Alliance steering committee member. "The last thing King County residents need right now is the noise and environmental effects that will come from having an additional 370 takeoffs and landings every day at Boeing Field."
Seattle-based Alaska Airlines sent a proposal to the King County Executive's Office late Friday outlining plans to offer 68 flights a day and to build a $150 million terminal with eight gates.
In this case, the setting is Seattle, and the argument centers on whether Southwest will fly from sprawling Seattle-Tacoma Airport or the smaller King County Airport, also known as Boeing Field.
The 2,921 Southwest flights that went over noise-sensitive neighborhoods raise questions about how many flights the airline could send over Elliott Bay should a move to Boeing Field be approved.
Though Southwest promised to spend $130 million of its own money to build a terminal and parking garage at Boeing Field, and to more than double the number of its flights, the proposal met with...