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Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, USA

July 14th, 2007 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (IATA: SEA, ICAO: KSEA), also known as Sea-Tac Airport, is located in SeaTac, Washington, United States at the intersections of Washington State Route 518, Washington State Route 99 and Washington State Route 509. It is located about 1.5 miles from Interstate 5. It serves Seattle, Washington and Tacoma, Washington as well as the Seattle metropolitan area and western Washington state. The airport is a hub for Alaska Airlines, whose headquarters is located near the airport, and its regional subsidiary Horizon Air. The airport has service to many destinations throughout North America, Europe and East Asia. It is also an international gateway for Northwest Airlines.

The airport has public Wi-Fi available, provided by Wayport.

"Welcome to Sea-Tac!" is said in an automated announcement in the airport's parking garage and skyways, in reference to the nickname that locals of the Seattle metropolitan area have given it. The name came before the city of SeaTac, Washington was founded.

In 2005, Sea-Tac served 29 million passengers making it the 17th busiest airport in the United States and 30th busiest in the world. It ranks 29th in total aircraft operations and 20th in total cargo volume.

Seattle-Tacoma Airport was constructed by the Port of Seattle in 1944 to serve civilians of the region, after the U.S. military took control of Boeing Field for use in World War II. The Port received $1 million from the Civil Aeronautics Administration to build the airport, and $100,000 from the City of Tacoma. Commercial use of the airport began after the war ended, with the first scheduled flights occurring in 1947. Two years later, the word International was added to the airport's name as Northwest Airlines began direct service to Tokyo. The runway was lengthened twice, first in 1959 to allow use by jets, and again in 1961 to handle increased traffic for the upcoming Century 21 World's Fair. In 1966, SAS inaugurated the airport's first non-stop route to Europe. The Port embarked on a major expansion plan from 1967 to 1973, adding a second runway, a parking garage, two satellite terminals, and other improvements to the airport.

Numerous residents of the surrounding area filed lawsuits against the Port in the early 1970s, complaining of noise, vibration, smoke, and other problems caused by the airport. The Port, together with the government of King County, adopted the Sea-Tac Communities Plan in 1976 to address the airport's impact on the area and guide its future development. The Port spent more than $100 million over the next decade to buy out homes and school buildings in the immediate vicinity, and soundproof others nearby.

In 1978, the U.S. ended airline regulation. Subsequently, U.S. airlines were allowed to determine routes and fares without government approval. Deregulation resulted in new service to Seattle, including TWA, which was the fourth largest U.S. airline, but did not serve Seattle.

After the death of U.S. Senator "Scoop" Jackson in 1983, the Seattle Port Commission voted to change the name of the airport to Henry M. Jackson International Airport, ostensibly to honor the late Senator. However, denizens of Tacoma interpreted the name change as an insult to their community —the second time in the airport's history that the port authorities had attempted to "erase" Tacoma from the map. But the $100,000 that Tacoma had provided for the airport's construction during World War II had come with an explicit promise that the city would be included in the airport's name. The City of Tacoma eventually prevailed in their attempt to return the long-standing moniker, and the name reverted to Sea-Tac early in 1984.

In the mid 1980s Sea-Tac participated in the airport noise compatibility program initiated by Congress in 1979. Airport noise contours were developed, real estate was purchased and some homes were retrofitted to achieve noise mitigation. Starting in the late 1980s, the Port of Seattle and a council representing local county governments considered the future of air traffic in the region and predicted that Sea-Tac Airport could reach capacity by 2000. The planning committee concluded in 1992 that the best solution was to add a third runway to Sea-Tac and construct a supplemental two-runway airport in one of the neighboring counties. Members of the community strongly opposed a third runway, as did Highline School District and the cities of Des Moines, Burien, Federal Way, Tukwila, and Normandy Park, but a 1994 study concluded there were no feasible sites for an additional airport. The Port of Seattle approved a plan for the new runway in 1996, prompting a lawsuit from opponents. The Port secured the necessary permits by agreeing to noise reduction programs and environmental protections. Runway opponents appealed these permits, but dropped their challenges in 2004. In the end, opposition to the runway caused hundreds of millions of dollars in extra costs due to litigation but nothing was accomplished other than to raise the cost of operating the airport. The runway is currently under construction, and is scheduled for completion in 2008 at a cost of $1.1 billion. This runway is one of the most expensive runways ever constructed in the world because of delays, legal and consulting fees. It also represents the tremendous inefficiencies of the region in taking over twenty years and spending hundreds of millions of dollars in costs unrelated to the actual construction costs. A project recently completed is the Central Terminal that contains the Pacific Marketplace, a retail and dining area of the airport.

Lately, there have been some problems with airplanes landing on Taxiway Tango, mistaking it for one of the runways. A large X has been placed at the north end of the taxiway to prevent the planes mistaking it with a runway.

[Source: Wikipedia]

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