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Southwest trying to leave SEA airport

Old 07-22-2005, 12:13 AM
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Default Southwest trying to leave SEA airport

Airline proposes terminal at Boeing Field

By Alwyn Scott
Seattle Times business reporter

Southwest Airlines unveiled a proposal yesterday to build a $130 million terminal and parking garage at Boeing Field in Seattle, touting the plan as "a nice, big, shiny, new, expensive gift" to the county that would boost employment, provide lower fares and even help sell Boeing jets.

The discount airline, which says it wants to shift all its flights from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, would design and build an eight-gate terminal and seven-level parking garage next to the county-owned Boeing Field's existing terminal, and deed them to the county after 50 years.

"It's Christmas in July for King County, Seattle and Puget Sound," Southwest Senior Vice President Ron Ricks said in a hard-sell news conference at Boeing Field yesterday.

"We're going to buy a lot of new Boeing 737s, and we're going to fly them to a building we built and gave to you," Ricks said.

Skeptics questioned whether any financial windfall for the county would come at the expense of taxpayers, nearby residents, and the financial underpinnings of Sea-Tac airport.

King County Council Chairman Larry Phillips challenged the $1.6 billion in economic benefits predicted by Southwest Airlines and County Executive Ron Sims. "Before we begin to sing the Christmas carols, we ought to have a pretty good idea of how many gifts really are in Santa's bag," he said.

If King County accepts the proposal, Southwest would run 60 flights daily from Boeing Field starting in 2009, up from 38 flights a day at Sea-Tac, gradually increasing to about 85 by 2013.

Rival airlines Alaska and Horizon said yesterday Southwest's shift would prompt them to move as many as a combined 100 flights a day to Boeing Field — nearly one-third of their Sea-Tac flights — even if that meant building their own terminal at Boeing Field.

"We would be prepared to do whatever would be necessary," said Joe Sprague, a vice president at Alaska Air Group, which owns Alaska and Horizon.

"The region has invested billions of dollars" in building Sea-Tac, he said. For the county and city to now spend money on Boeing Field "is incredibly bad public policy."

Southwest currently pays about $11.9 million a year in fees to Sea-Tac, while Alaska and Horizon together contribute about $69 million.

Southwest officials estimated yesterday that, at Boeing Field, they would pay the county $2.5 million per year in landing fees and ground leases. The county would also share in parking revenue.

The Port of Seattle, which operates Sea-Tac, said it would consider cutting airport-expansion plans in response to Southwest's proposal. Sea-Tac is in the midst of a $4.2 billion building program that includes a third runway, a larger central terminal and improvements.

"There's a list of projects we're going to have in front of us as early as Tuesday that could be delayed or omitted," Port Commission President Bob Edwards said.

The Port already has cut projects, restructured its debt and trimmed staff to bring airlines' projected future costs at the airport down to an estimated $14.15 per passenger from $25 projected two years ago. Those costs would take effect in 2009, when the third runway is scheduled to open.

Despite those moves, Southwest said costs at Sea-Tac are threatening its ability to serve Seattle, and without the move, it might have to scale back operations here.

Costs at Sea-Tac are the highest among the 60 airports Southwest serves, Chief Executive Gary Kelly said. Southwest's nationwide average airport cost is between $4 and $5 per passenger, and at Boeing Field the airline thinks it can operate below that average.

Sea-Tac costs amount to more than $10 per passenger, "with the cost destined to go higher," Kelly said.

Southwest said it would conduct a full environmental review, and said its modern, all-Boeing fleet "climbs higher and climbs faster and thus diminishes the noise on the ground."

Southwest often flies from secondary airports. It generally uses existing buildings, but recently built a terminal in Islip, N.Y.

Sims welcomed Southwest's proposal, saying it would bring new jobs to the south end of Seattle while boosting Boeing Field's anemic revenues and building a privately funded terminal that the county eventually would own.

Sims said Southwest has agreed to steer its flights over water instead of residential neighborhoods as much as possible.

"We believe actually that this may result in less noise [rather] than more," he said.

Under the proposal, road improvements would be government's responsibility. Sims and county Transportation Director Harold Taniguchi said they won't know how much it might cost to upgrade nearby roads in Seattle or Tukwila until an environmental-impact study is completed. Sims noted that four-lane Airport Way South in front of the airport is under-used.

He vowed that any road improvements needed to support Southwest's move would come from airport revenues rather than from tax coffers. "There's not going to be property-tax money used to pay for the airport," he said.

The city of Seattle, which owns roads surrounding the airport, said it wouldn't pay for improvements. "If they want to do this proposal, they're going to have to address that concern," said Marty McOmber, a spokesman for Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels.

The plan is running into serious opposition from neighborhood groups, King County Council members and officials in some neighboring cities.

"We have no intention of allowing Southwest to justify their cheap airline fares on the backs of our citizens having to put up with the additional noise," said Tukwila Mayor Steve Mullet.

He questioned whether Southwest would produce enough airport revenue to improve roads, including Boeing Access Road.

"There's probably $100 million [in road upgrade costs] sitting out there somewhere," he said. Five out of 13 County Council members are co-sponsoring an ordinance that would require any airline to pay all capital costs — including those off site — of moving to Boeing Field.

Funding road improvements through increased airport revenues wouldn't comply with the ordinance, said its prime sponsor, Dwight Pelz.

If Southwest moves to Boeing Field, Pelz said, it would gain "an unfair advantage in the marketplace. I don't know why King County government should take sides in the airline industry. That is not our job."

Kurt Triplett, Sims' chief of staff, said Boeing Field could still accommodate Alaska Airlines if the airline wants to build a terminal and parking for an operation the size Southwest is proposing. But the airport couldn't accommodate the 200 takeoffs and landings a day Alaska cited yesterday, he said.

The Federal Aviation Administration said it will await a specific proposal from the county before assessing the added flights.

Boeing spokeswoman Sandy Angers said the company has no opinion on Southwest moving to Boeing Field. But she added, "Southwest is a great 737 customer. ... Anything that's going to help them be profitable, we're all for their success."
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Old 07-22-2005, 04:48 PM
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Southwest does it right...right? If it is cheaper for them at boeing field...go there!

I am sure the customers will follow.

Old 07-22-2005, 05:13 PM
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SWA has a lot of room to save even more.

1) Ever thought of actually trying to get along with the rest of the flying community?

I would be very leary of someone who just can't play with others.

Lets get in the game and we ALL win. SWA idea is make our own rules and
ONLY SWA wins.

Sure, goods and products all over this country come in many shapes and colors and PRICES.

Last edited by av8r4aa; 07-25-2005 at 09:24 PM. Reason: Got rude and did not want to
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Old 07-22-2005, 09:06 PM
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If Southwest is the Walmart of the skies, that's good! It means their customers are getting consistently low prices, a friendly smile, and a no-frills value. That's what the pax want, and those companies like JetBlue and Southwest that give it to them will do well.

I think bashing Southwest is unjustified-- last I checked, they were hiring pilots and paying them well-- not furloughing thousands and cutting their pay.
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Old 07-22-2005, 10:53 PM
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Originally Posted by av8r4aa

When will the flying public learn the true meaning of


Good question, maybe this can help.

American Airlines

American Airlines’ pilot training program is under watch due to the number of plane crashes that have been attributed to pilot errors over the last 15 years. Since 1985 American Airlines has had 270 fatalities, 741 FAA incidents, 158 NTSB incidents, and 505 FAA violations/fines in 1997-2000, making it the U.S. leader in FAA violations and fines.


Aviation Lawyer

>>It's only a matter of time that SWA will be buying Made in China Airplanes<<

Let's see, SWA's history is 100% Boeing.

AMR's history includes Airbi from France, Fokkers from Holland, BAC's from England, and of course, the RJ's from Brazil and Canada.

Speaking of China, how much Walmart merchandise gets hauled between AA's newly gained and hard fought for China service and it's code share agreement with China Eastern Airlines. How much revenue does AMR earn today from flights flown by former MIG pilot Chicoms from China Eastern flights carrying AA passengers holding AA generated tickets bearing AA codes.

Last edited by Widow's Son; 07-22-2005 at 11:39 PM.
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Old 07-23-2005, 01:07 AM
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I knew it wouldn't take long to take a stab at AA safety record.
Yes , it is not great no arguing there.

But back to the main topic.......... How about save all that money
building up Seattle Boeing field. and take that offer for FREE GATES
and many other perks at DFW!
I know I know DFW is not our type of airport we like.
Well business wise I would want my company to save that money
building something new and take the free offer at DFW.

Sure seems like a better way to spend cash to me.

Lets review here:

1) Move from SEA to BFI, spend millions
2) Move to DFW ,fly long haul, take advantage of free rent plus all the other perks, Give AA a run for their money. make millions

Seems quite simple to me
But what do I know
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Old 07-23-2005, 07:27 AM
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It's only a matter of time that SWA will be buying Made in China Airplanes
And crewing them with dirt poor farmers from some third world country.

Ninety Two, Set....you are quite correct SWA does pay quite well and are hiring. They paid this "dirt poor farmers from some third world country" $202K last year to fly an AMERICAN MADE B-737 (more than an AA 777 driver) and hiring projections call for 250 more new hires this year and 500 min. next year.

Widow's son....Great reference points!
Seems quite simple to me
But what do I know

Apparently not much. I'm thankful that Gary Kelly is running the SWA show and not some idiot without a concept of business

You might want to be careful bashing Walmart, some of your 2500+ layed-off coworkers may be working there. Oh did I mention that SWA has never laid off a pilot. I can't figure out why you are so angry with lil' old SWA, heck you work for the biggerst airline in the world and you guys made a profit last quarter.
Your jealous rants are quite a compliment. Thank you.

Last edited by SWAcapt; 07-23-2005 at 04:14 PM.
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Old 07-23-2005, 03:18 PM
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The point with your "you get what you pay for" reference was that somehow north Texas travellers should be happy to pay more to ride on American than Southwest.

Southwest has;

A better on-time record
A better baggage handling record
A much lower passenger complaint history
An admittedly much higher safety record
Higher Baldwin Quality award ratings
More room in coach
No chance of getting put on a turboprop
Much younger fleet
All accomplished by a much happier workforce because they earn more money, have better benefits, and enjoy much better job security.

Granted you can't buy an SWA ticket and ride on China Eastern, but overall, can you explain why the public should gladly want to pay more to fly American?
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Old 07-25-2005, 12:50 PM
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You nailed it, Widow's Son.
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Old 07-25-2005, 02:47 PM
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Originally Posted by av8r4aa
They exploit the fabric of this country. And send all the jobs off shore. It's only a matter of time that SWA will be buying Made in China Airplanes
I'm not familar with that practice, could you expand on how SWA is exploiting the fabric of this country and sending jobs off shore? As stated before, my understanding was that they paid a decent wage and benefits, are profitable, and hire only US employees.

Originally Posted by av8r4aa
...They should rename it Air-Bubba or Redneck-Air.
Have you looked in the mirror lately?

Originally Posted by av8r4aa
How about save all that money building up Seattle Boeing field. and take that offer for FREE GATES and many other perks at DFW!
Your really a mangment pilot at AA aren't you? I think that AA managment must be the only ones who don't understand why SWA will never go to DFW. It's about operating costs not the lease costs. SWA in general shys away from slot controled - high capcity airports. Until the feds get a grip an ATC, SWA will always go for the path of least resistance in terms of airport delays.
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