LITTLE SEATTLE AIRFIELD TAKES CARGO AWAY FROM CONGESTED RIVAL

LITTLE SEATTLE AIRFIELD TAKES CARGO AWAY FROM CONGESTED RIVAL

First off, it's not owned by Boeing Co., although the airplane manufacturer has a huge flight test center there.

Next, the full name is Boeing Field/King County International Airport - although everyone simply calls it Boeing Field, named after William E. Boeing, founder of the world's largest aircraft maker.Occupying 613 acres of former swamp land in the now highly industrialized Duwamish Valley, about 5 miles south of downtown Seattle, the airport is a self-sustaining facility owned and operated by the county. Open 24 hours a day and situated next to a major interstate highway, it handles no scheduled commercial passenger flights.

With more than 410,000 landings and takeoffs each year, Boeing Field is the largest and busiest general aviation facility in the Northwest, and ranks in the top 15 nationally. It was dedicated in July 1928, and currently is undergoing a master plan review process to determine its specific needs for the next 20 years, said Jack Frazelle, assistant airport director.

The airport is the primary weather alternate for Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, and often is used by major airlines when harsh weather and fog hit the area.

A major growth area at Boeing Field recently has been the cargo sector, which is increasing, but not necessarily at the expense of Sea-Tac, whose cargo volumes also are growing. Sea-Tac air freight was up 2 percent in the first six months of this year, while it rose 7.5 percent in 1994, to 410,000 metric tons.

Congestion at Sea-Tac, which is operating virtually at full capacity, has convinced some air cargo operators, such as Airborne Express and Burlington Air Express, to move to Boeing Field. Boeing Field's convenient access to Interstate 5, a major north-south highway, is an attractive selling point that also helps lure Sea-Tac's overflow.

According to David Pierce, Boeing's regional director, revenue analysis - cargo, the reason Boeing Field traffic is growing is because "all-cargo carriers are moving there from Sea-Tac. Surface congestion at Sea-Tac is pretty bad."

"Air cargo is the greatest demand we have; we are not able to meet it," said Mr. Frazelle. Part of the master plan process, he explained, will be to make more space available for air cargo operations, including construction of an all-purpose general aviation terminal. "We see the plan accommodating more cargo traffic," he said.

However, officials are only in the beginning stages of updating the plan, he said.

Cargo and corporate operations currently are the two big activities at Boeing Field, while recreational (general aviation) flights there are decreasing.

JUNE SETS RECORDS

During the first five months of the year, cargo traffic grew almost 72 percent, to 45 million pounds, compared with 26 million pounds during the same period last year, Mr. Frazelle said. June was a record month for United Parcel Service at Boeing Field, with nearly 9 million pounds, he added.

Airborne is demolishing a hangar at Boeing Field to build a sorting facility, and Burlington, which is on a month-to-month lease at Sea-Tac, eventually will move to Boeing Field, said Mr. Frazelle. It is building a facility there.

Air cargo outfits at Boeing Field other than UPS, Airborne and Burlington are pretty small. They include Western Air Express, Ameriflight, Aeroflight, Mid-Atlantic and Mountain High Aviation The largest in that group, Aeroflight, averages about 100,000 pounds a month.

"There seems to be movement in both directions between Sea-Tac and Boeing Field," said Bill Anschuetz, director of aviation communications for Sea-Tac.

For example, Federal Express recently moved to Sea-Tac because Boeing Field was not able to accommodate its need for additional ground space.

Boeing Field has two parallel runways, one 10,000 feet long, the other a secondary or small plane runway of 3,710 feet long.

The airport's 20-year development program will result in about $18 million in capital outlays, including the relocation of a road at the north end of the airport; acquisition of property on the west side of the airfield to allow construction of additional aircraft storage hangars; repaving of aircraft parking aprons, taxiways and runways; and construction of an east-side taxiway extension.

According to a 1984 estimate - the last available - Boeing Field's total economic impact in the region was $587 million, 77 percent of which was generated by Boeing Co.