airport • employment

Updated Mar 25 2016, by Craig Helmann, PSRC

Strong Passenger Growth for SeaTac Airport Continues into 2016

Figure 1. Passengers at SeaTac Airport
Figure 1. Passengers at SeaTac Airport

There are many signs of a strong economy and vibrant quality of life in a region – and one of them is the amount of people who chose to travel to and from a region. It is estimated the over 75% of airline travel is for leisure but business related travel brings in a larger share of revenue to airlines – and this travel grows when the economy is growing.

What is the trend for airline passenger volumes at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport?

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SeaTac) was the 13th busiest airport in the United States last year and surpassed 42 million passengers for the first time in its history. In all, there were almost 5 million more passengers passing through the airport in 2015, a 13% increase over 2014.

In February 2016, an additional 364,000 passengers flew in and out of SeaTac airport, a 13.6% increase over February 2015, for a total monthly passenger volume of over 3.0 million. This marks the first time the airport has moved over 3 million people in the month of February and is 669,000 more passengers than February 2014.

What is the busiest month for travel?

We all know that the week of Thanksgiving is the busiest week of the year at an airport but many people might be surprised to know that the summer months, especially July and August, are typically the busiest months for travel in the year. This reflects the summer travel that occurs throughout the month – unlike November which is pretty light for the first half of the month – as well as the fact that there are 31 days in each of those summer months.

What about Air Cargo?

Figure 2. Annual Air Cargo at SeaTac Airport
Figure 2. Annual Air Cargo at SeaTac Airport

Over 330 metric tons of air cargo Air Cargo was moved through SeaTac airport in 2015 – up slightly from 2014 and ranking 19th in the country. Approximately 18% all air cargo moved is mail. February 2016 air cargo levels have reduced below 2015 levels and are slightly higher than the total amount of air cargo moved through the airport in February 2014.

Which Airline moves the most passengers?

Figure 3. Passengers by Airline
Figure 3. Passengers by Airline

Alaska Airlines, which includes Horizon Air, carried over 55% of the passenger volume in February 2016. Delta Airlines is the next largest airline by passenger volume at approximately 18% of total passenger volume in February 2016. Delta Airlines has increased their market share 7% over the past two years and is currently the fastest growing carrier at Sea-Tac Airport – averaging 39% passenger volume growth per year on the last 2 years.

What’s Next?

Passenger volume trends are updated monthly and will be considered along with other economic indicators to understand the story of growth in the region.