Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) is the fastest growing U.S. airport over the past five years. Passenger traffic has increased by 43%, from 32.2 million passengers in 2012 to 46.9 million in 2017.
That’s the upside. On the downside, the record growth has resulted in crowded gates and aircraft idling on the tarmac waiting for an open slot. The increasing volume has also inspired the Port of Seattle to look for innovative ways to relieve gate congestion and aircraft backups.
The airport’s solution: increase hardstand operations and use buses to transport passengers to/from aircraft parked at remote airfield locations. The strategy is temporary, because the ultimate goal is to have all contact gates, with aircraft connecting to the terminal via loading bridges; but it is also long-term, because achieving that goal might take 10 to 20 years. In the interim, the airport has put a program in place that redefines what hardstand operations can be.