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2017 Was a Record-Breaking Year at Sea-Tac Airport

February 1, 2018

Quick Stats:

  • 2017 Analysis: 46.9 Million annual passengers breaks another record at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
  • Airport contributed $22.5 billion to local economy
  • New construction to expand Central Terminal started February 8

For the seventh consecutive year, passenger travel at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport has set a record. Demand for air travel at Sea-Tac Airport increased 41 percent the last five years, rising from 33.2 million passengers in 2012 to 46.9 million passengers in 2017.

Increased demand for air services means more airport-related jobs and local economic activity. A new airport economic impact analysis by Community Attributes Inc., found that the airport supports $22.5 billion in total economic activity, 19,100 jobs at the airport and a total of 151,400 jobs directly or through multiplier effects. When all 350 airport employers are combined, the total number of on-site jobs makes Sea-Tac Airport the 5th largest employer in King County.

“It takes a highly skilled village to serve 46 million passengers while simultaneously building world class facilities,” said Courtney Gregoire, Port of Seattle Commission President. “Record-breaking demand is not enough. We also need to deliver record-breaking results for local businesses, local workers, and neighborhoods closest to the airport. Between airport construction and airport-related development in the area, we are partnering with communities to make even closer connections on job and business opportunities.”

The airport is currently underway with $2 billion in construction projects aimed at serving more passengers and improving the travel experience and expects to spend $3.2 billion on capital development between 2017 and 2022. In 2017, the airport broke ground on the new International Arrivals Facility and North Satellite Modernization, major projects designed to meet growing demand, enhance the passenger service and provide more dining and retail options to travelers. On February 8, the airport will begin a new high-profile $17 million renovation to add 10,000 square feet to the Central Terminal dining area. No taxpayer dollars are used to fund airport projects.

"Sea-Tac Airport has provided more than a gateway for our region, it has enabled our local business community to respond effectively and efficiently to the opportunities and challenges of globalization and technology,” said Andrea H. Reay, President and CEO of the Southside Seattle Chamber of Commerce. “Our Chamber values the commitment the airport has to not only move people and cargo but to be a driver for our local economy and a responsible steward in our community. The sky is the limit with what our local businesses can accomplish by fully utilizing the opportunities available within our region.”

Central Terminal rendering
Artist's rendering of the Central Terminal. Courtesy Port of Seattle/Mandville Design.

“We couldn’t be happier about being at Sea-Tac,” said Danialle An, owner of CHALO Seattle. Her business sells unique Seattle-themed items, with a whimsical look at what makes the city special. “The opportunity to get our products in front of thousands of potential customers every day has helped our company grow – we’ve had to hire additional staff and boost inventory to meet the demand.”

In addition to increasing its economic development programs, the Port of Seattle has expanded its community development investments in neighborhoods most affected by a busier airport. Recently the Port of Seattle created a new Airport Communities Ecology Grants program, began offering airport advertising opportunities for neighboring cities, established a local cities stakeholder roundtable, and became an active participant in a University of Washington study to examine the health impacts of ultra-fine particulates from airplanes. The Port of Seattle is also involved in efforts to create a similar study at the federal level.

2017 Service Highlights

  • Sea-Tac Airport served 46.9 million passengers in 2017, a 2.3 percent increase over 2016
  • International passenger traffic was up 5.4 percent in 2017, including a 17.1 percent increase to Europe.
  • In 2017, Sea-Tac added four new international airlines:
    • Virgin Atlantic to London-Heathrow
    • Norwegian to London-Gatwick
    • Eurowings to Cologne
    • Aeromexico to Mexico City
  • Sea-Tac will add three more international airlines in 2018:
    • Air France to Paris
    • Thomas Cook to Manchester
    • Aer Lingus to Dublin
  • 425,800 Metric tons of cargo (freight and mail) passed through Sea-Tac in 2017, a 16.2 percent increase over 2016. Domestic air cargo grew by 19.8 percent, while international cargo increased 8.5 percent compared to last year.

2017 Economic Impact Highlights

  • The airport directly supports an estimated 87,300 jobs, including 19,100 at the airport and 68,200 jobs supported by visitor spending.
  • The majority of airport-supported jobs are in King County, with 40 percent of airport workers coming from South King County.
  • The airport’s neighboring communities are direct beneficiaries of Sea-Tac activities. Combined, those cities have realized direct economic impacts of more than $7.4 billion.
  • Overall, the report estimates 151,400 total jobs are supported by the airport, either directly or through multiplier effects.
  • Airport activity contributed $442 million in state and local taxes
  • 1,673 individuals hired at Sea-Tac through Port Jobs

Central Terminal Renovation Highlights

  • 10,000 square feet of new dining and retail space
  • Expanded employment opportunities with new tenants
  • Spectacular views from north and south mezzanine dining areas
  • New, family-friendly seating in Central Terminal food court 
  • Charging stations to meet travelers’ technology needs
  • New sit-down restaurants will soon open near the Central Terminal
  • Abundant food options throughout the airport, closer to passenger gates

Read more about the Central Terminal Renovation project here.



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