Passenger volume at Sea-Tac Airport reaches 53-year low in April
Seattle-Tacoma International Airport would typically be preparing for a busy Memorial Day weekend right now, but is instead seeing most passengers continue to avoid non-essential travel due to COVID-19 concerns. The airport’s new public dashboard indicates passenger volume is down to a 53-year low.
In April 2020, approximately 260,000 passengers traveled through Sea-Tac, a decrease of 93.6% from April 2019. The last time passenger volumes were this low was in 1967.
Passenger volume is expected to increase slightly this month, with as many as 8,000 departing screened passengers on the busiest travel days in May. This time last year, Sea-Tac averaged 53,000 departing screened passengers.
“The airport economy provides jobs, sales, and tax revenue for our whole region,” said Lance Lyttle, airport managing director. “Publishing key data on a weekly dashboard gives local governments and industries valuable, real-time activity indicators to help track the recovery. I am heartened that our passenger numbers are gradually increasing.”
Domestic passenger traffic was down 93.1%, and international traffic was down 97.1% last month. More than 9.4 million passengers passed through Sea-Tac from January to April 2020, which marks a 36.4% decrease from the first four months of 2019.
Last week, passenger volume averaged 5,500, still down 90% from a year prior. However, the volume last week more than doubles the lowest level of passengers, which was just 2,600 in the week of April 12. There was a 71% reduction in takeoffs and landings last week compared to the same week in 2019.
Sea-Tac is using this slower time to prepare for the next phase of reopening and, hopefully, higher volumes of activity. To protect the safety and well-being of passengers and employees, the airport launched FlyHealthy @ SEA, a multi-phased strategy.
When passengers return to travel, they can expect a new experience at the airport. Face coverings will be required in public areas, there will be signage to indicate spacing for physical distancing, plastic protective barriers between passengers and employees, frequent disinfection, and 250 hand sanitizer stations throughout the terminal.
By June 1, the airport will have reconfigured public spaces to allow for distancing in queues, seating areas, and around the terminal. The airport plans to start temperature checks for passengers by June 9.