Travelers are spending more at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport these days, but the glittering new Central Terminal, with its soaring...

Share story

Travelers are spending more at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport these days, but the glittering new Central Terminal, with its soaring glass wall and enticing eateries, is cannibalizing business from the other concourses.

Passengers spent $7.81, on average, at Sea-Tac in June, up 17 percent from $6.67 a year ago, according to figures released yesterday by the Port of Seattle, which owns and manages the airport.

But the increase overshadowed concourses where sales fell sharply.

Sales at Concourse B, for example, fell 41 percent over the same period.

Most Read Stories

Unlimited Digital Access. $1 for 4 weeks.

The drop was due in part to Delta and other airlines moving from that concourse to the rebuilt Concourse A, in addition to visitors patronizing the more chi-chi fare at the new Central Terminal, which connects to Concourse B, said Kottayam Natarajan, a general manager at Sea-Tac.

“It’s pretty substantial,” Natarajan told Port commissioners.

Sales at Concourses C and D, where Alaska Airlines dominates, were down 19 percent in June from a year ago. At the North and South Satellite Terminals, sales fell 17 percent.

The vendors “were upset that their sales had gone down,” Natarajan said.

Port commissioners asked if those businesses can be further helped.

“Are we doing more to make sure these people don’t actually go bankrupt by the end of the year?” Commissioner Pat Davis asked.

Natarajan said the Port is working with them to help stabilize sales. He noted it’s hard to draw trend lines from two months of data. The new Central Terminal opened in May.

The top seller at the airport is Anthony’s Restaurant and Fish Bar, which took in $836,000 in its first full month of sales and expects sales to top $8 million for the year, Natarajan said.

The Port received $635,000 from the $50 million in sales for May and June, up 28 percent from a year ago. The rise is expected to help reduce the cost for airlines serving Sea-Tac, because the Port shares some of the money with them.

“The airlines have the benefit of our entrepreneurial success,” Commissioner Paige Miller said.

Sea-Tac’s costs have been at issue since its ongoing $4.2 billion remodel and expansion penciled out to airlines paying an additional $25 per passenger once the new runway opens in 2009. That compares with $11.42 now.

A further $2 billion in airport spending is planned for coming years, when the current project is done.

The Port cut the projected increase to $14.15 per passenger, but the figure is up from around $4 in the 1990s.

Concerns about rising costs prompted Southwest Airlines to propose moving to Boeing Field last month. Alaska Airlines said it might move, too, if Southwest leaves Sea-Tac.

Alwyn Scott: 206-464-3329 or ascott@seattletimes.com