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Airplanes at the gates at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. (Flickr Photo / SounderBruce)

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is busier than ever, servicing a record 46.9 million passengers in 2017 as the region continues to boom behind a thriving tech economy and surging population.

The Port of Seattle reported last week that Sea-Tac has experienced a 41 percent increased in demand for air travel over the past five years. In 2012, 33.2 million passengers came and went through the airport.

The jump from 2016, when Sea-Tac was ranked the ninth busiest airport in the United States, was 2.3 percent. The Seattle region is in the midst of a major growth spurt, and large tech companies based in the area — Amazon, Microsoft, etc. — or setting up outposts — Google, Facebook, etc. — are clearly attracting more business travelers.

There were 416,124 takeoffs and landings at Sea-Tac in 2017. The Port also reported that international passenger traffic was up 5.4 percent last year, including a 17.1 percent increase to Europe.

Meeting current demand and adjusting for continued growth is the basis for $2 billion in construction projects that are currently underway at the airport. Ground was broken last year on the new International Arrivals Facility and North Satellite Modernization.

On Thursday, the start of a nearly $17 million Central Terminal Renovation Project will further address the increased number of travelers as well as the demand for amenities that people expect from a top-notch facility. The project, which begins this month, will add 10,000 square feet of additional dining and shopping options. The construction is expected to be completed in two phases, with the south side done in the first quarter of 2019 and the north side completed in Q4 of 2019.

Finally, the Port released its new Economic Impact Analysis for Sea-Tac. Some of the highlights include:

  • The airport supports $22.5 billion in total economic activity.
  • The airport directly supports an estimated 87,300 jobs, including 19,100 at the airport and 68,200 jobs supported by visitor spending.
  • When all 350 airport employers are combined, the total number of on-site jobs makes Sea-Tac Airport the fifth largest employer in King County.
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