Big question of where new airport may be built remains a mystery

Anyone who’s dealt with the crowds at Seattle-Tacoma International (SEA) knows we could use another big airport in our area. But the commission that was going to pick a location is now leaving the decision in the hands of a new working group, while the big question of where a new airport could go remains a mystery.

The Washington Commercial Aviation Coordinating Commission is supposed to submit a final report by later this month, and the group did say that it would send the report to parties that may move the process forward.

The whole reason for this is that Sea-Tac is operating well over capacity.

The commission has spent years researching options — potential locations in Pierce and Thurston counties have faced pushback, and at least one pilot told me some commission choices may not allow for safe landings and takeoffs.

Most people are not questioning the need for an airport to deal with travel capacity, but some have questioned why the commission didn’t consider King County or an existing military base such as Joint Base Lewis-McChord as sites — the public gave their final takes on the issue.

The commission was created in 2019 to try to find a location for a new airport. The Port of Seattle said SEA totaled 45.9 million passengers in 2022 — that’s down 11% from 2019 — but forecasts say 2024 will see travel volumes at pre-pandemic levels.

A new airport, if one is built, would not be ready until about 2040.