OLYMPIA – Legislation (Senate Bill 5370) creating a pathway to develop new commercial aviation facilities in the state heads to Gov. Jay Inslee following final passage by the House and Senate the day before the 2019 Legislative session is scheduled to adjourn.  A new 15-member commission will be tasked with reviewing options and making decisions on potential sites for future aviation facilities. 

Sea-Tac International Airport is the fastest growing airports in the nation. In 2009, state estimates projected 30 million passengers would travel through Sea-Tac. However, by 2018, passenger travel reached nearly 50 million in a single year.

“The opening of the new two-gate passenger terminal at Everett’s Paine Field is a welcome relief, but it will not solve the long-term need to find additional commercial airport capacity in our state,” said bill sponsor Sen. Karen Keiser (D-Des Moines). “If you’ve flown in or out of Sea-Tac recently you know we already face flight delays, gate limitations, and terminal congestion as everyday events. Another commercial airport—whether it is brand new or a build-out of existing facilities — makes sense for our state, our economy and our citizens.”

The new commission must review options and make decisions on possible locations for new commercial aviation facilities for both passenger and air cargo services.  The bill requires decisions on at least two options by 2022. 

“Increased air traffic from Sea-Tac in recent years highlights the need for additional airport capacity,” said Rep. Tina Orwall (D-Des Moines) who sponsored similar legislation in the House. “As our state continues to flourish, this new commission will help us better understand our growing commercial airport needs, and what new opportunities exist to expand in other areas of the state.”

Senate Bill 5370 is supported by the Washington Ports Association and the Port of Seattle Commissioners, as well as the airport-impacted cities of Burien, SeaTac and Des Moines.

The legislation passed with broad bipartisan support out of both chambers, and it now goes to the Governor’s desk for signing.