Mark Reis, who headed Seattle-Tacoma International Airport through some of its largest projects, announced his retirement in a note to staff members and colleagues Thursday.
Reis, 64, will retire early next year giving the Port of Seattle, the airport’s owner, ample time to conduct a broad search for a new airport chief.
His retirement announcement comes as the airport is experiencing unprecedented growth. The airport announced passenger traffic jumped 12 percent in June and 13.1 percent for the year, making Sea-Tac the fastest growing major U.S. airport.
Sea-Tac passenger traffic in June exceeded 4 million passengers for the first time in airport history.
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If the growth continues at the present pace, the airport’s passenger traffic could total some 42 million in 2015, putting Sea-Tac in position to potentially pass Miami, Houston, Las Vegas and Phoenix among the nation’s busiest airports.
“A colleague — now retired — once told me he always figured he would know when it was time. I now know what he meant,” said Reis in a memo to associates, “After 11 years of serving in this role and 27 with the Port of Seattle, I can now say that it is time to move on to another chapter.”
Reis said he has no specific plans yet for his post-retirement life.
Reis helped guide the airport through its construction of its third runway, through the creation of a remotely sited rental car terminal and the reconstruction of its main runway.
He has moved planning forward on $1.9 billion in major projects to expand the airport’s international arrival facilities and to expand and remodel its North Satellite Terminal.
That capacity growth in recent years has been driven in part by Delta Air Lines’ creation of an international hub at the airport. The Atlanta-based carrier now serves Tokyo, Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong and Seoul in Asia from Sea-Tac nonstop. In Europe, the airline offers nonstop flights to Sea-Tac from London, Amsterdam and Paris. The airline has created a web of domestic flights to serve Sea-Tac and its international destinations. The airport’s international traffic was up 15.7 percent in June.
The airport’s busiest carrier, Alaska Airlines, meanwhile, has added dozens of domestic destinations nonstop including Milwaukee, Oklahoma City, Raleigh, Charleston, Nashville, New Orleans, Albuquerque and others.
John Gillie: 253-597-8663