Permafrost, container housing, and the Alaska Department of Transportation. This is anything but a typical airline story, because Alaska Airlines is anything but a typical airline.
Maybe that’s why Cathie Attebery, Amy Fuller-Lyman, and Erin Taubitz found their way to the company. The three women excel at finding creative solutions for challenges the rest of the airline industry probably can’t quite fathom.
Attebery, director of airport development at Alaska Airlines, came to the company after two years at Boeing. Prior to that, she owned her own construction company for nearly a decade. She’s a natural builder (and a confessed avid tinkerer in her spare time), and the unique responsibilities of her role have kept her energized and engaged since coming aboard.
Fuller-Lyman, the resident veteran of the group with over 22 years at Alaska Airlines, serves as a liaison of sorts between the real estate team and the airport entity itself. She’s also on the front lines of land-lease deals with the State of Alaska.
Taubitz, who serves under Attebery as airport design and construction manager, came to the airline after gaining experience in both public and private sector roles as an architect and project manager. Her role is a perfect mix of driving bottom-line profits while also tackling projects almost no one else would ever see in the field.
Attebery succinctly sums up just why a job at Alaska Airlines isn’t like any other.
“The unique thing about this airline is that there are environmental- and community-related components, like the fact that we often provide lifesaving services to remote communities,” Attebery explains. “We consistently have the opportunity to explore innovation when dealing with climate change. This is in addition to our typical airline responsibilities.”
One of the team’s truly unique projects can be found in Yakutat, Alaska, which has a population of 597. Fuller-Lyman’s team purchased an aircraft hangar from the World War II era. It’s ideal for Alaska Airlines storage, but it’s far more space than what’s needed for equipment storage.
“The more we looked into it, the more we thought there might be an opportunity to do something unique here,” Fuller-Lyman explains. “Housing is always an issue for us in these remote locations, so what if we created some kind of unconventional lodging so when our corporate people are on-site, they have a place to stay?”
Attebery says the project has been deemed “the Hangar of Possibilities” because of just how many different ideas might be put into action. Container housing, or small homes created out of shipping containers, might be the perfect solution for on-site housing within the hangar itself.
Complicated housing needs are always on Fuller-Lyman’s plate. When there was turnover in the small town of Kotzebue, Alaska, there was no lodging to be had for the new manager.
“So, Cathie’s team shipped a prefab house kit,” Fuller-Lyman explains. “It was built on-site and now we own and manage it.”
When it comes to navigating the otherworldly arctic climates of the region, Taubitz has her hands full. Climate change has presented huge challenges that can lead to the melting of permafrost and the destabilization of civil engineering and apron weight stabilities.
“The question comes down to how do we keep permafrost from melting without putting large quantities of manmade material within the earth, which would be the typical technological application,” Attebery says.
Alaska Airlines is partnering with research scientists to test a biostable synthetic insulation application that won’t adversely affect the environment and absorbs carbon during its fabrication.
“With temperatures rising, we’re experiencing new problems that, historically, we’ve never encountered,” Taubitz explains. “But we’re not just going to start ripping up the earth. We’re intent on being thoughtful about the lifespan of our projects and what we’re putting into the ground.”
Even on the more traditional front, Alaska Airlines is finding ways to stay ahead of its competition.
Attebery is grateful to be a part of a team that is regularly creating in-house innovation, like the new bag tag station that will allow guests to quickly print a bag tag, pay for a bag, and add a bag with ease. The goal is to simplify the airport lobby experience and reduce stress for both employees and guests. This new product, along with others being developed by e-commerce teams, will help reduce congestion in our airport lobbies.
“The fact that no one else in the industry has been able to solve this challenge with an internally developed product that connects all of their technologies together is pretty exciting,” Attebery says.
“I think you’ll see the difference in our airport lobbies because our lobbies are not going to be congested like every other airline,” she adds. “We’ll continuing deploying some new technologies that we’re very excited about. I think some of these projects have the potential to change the aviation industry and the overall airport experience for our passengers.”
When Alaska Airlines needed a construction partner for their LAX Terminal 6 Redevelopment Project, they turned to PCL Construction, a team well-versed in navigating complex aviation projects in an active facility. Alaska’s Director of Airport Development, Cathie Attebery, sets the tone for our work together with a focus on Alaska’s passengers at the forefront. PCL is managing the construction of the project requiring proactive coordination of stakeholder needs to preserve passenger experience and address potential schedule challenges. PCL and Alaska are working together to improve efficiency and functionality, enhance operations, balance capacity with demand and elevate passenger experience.
Consolidated Contracting & Engineering LLC is proud to partner with Alaska Airlines and their Facilities project management team. We have worked with Cathie Attebery and Erin Taubitz for many years improving and expanding Alaska’s facilities to better serve their employees and clients. Cathie and Erin’s dedication to improving the atmosphere and safety of the workplace sets them apart from the norm. CCE is proud to support this recognition of their continued contributions to Alaska Airlines.