Sea-Tac nation’s fastest-growing major airport through September

Passengers wait at a security checkpoint at Sea-Tac Airport on April 24, 2015.
Passengers wait at a security checkpoint at Sea-Tac Airport on April 24, 2015. Staff photographer

A brisk pace of route expansion by the airport’s two largest airlines and a healthy Puget Sound economy is helping Sea-Tac Airport set new passenger-handling records through this year’s third quarter.

Through the end of September, Sea-Tac’s passenger numbers were up 13.3 percent over the record numbers in 2014’s first three quarters.

That pace is more than twice the 5.7 percent average growth experienced by major American airports this year so far, said the Port of Seattle, Sea-Tac’s owner.

At the rate the airport is processing passengers, Sea-Tac will see more than 42 million travelers pass through the airport by the end of the year. That compares with 37.5 million passengers the airport handled in 2014.

The airport said if its projections prove true, 2015 will be the fifth consecutive year in which passenger traffic set records.

Both the airport’s busiest airline, Alaska, and its second-place airline, Delta, have been adding numerous new nonstop destinations from the airport. Alaska has begun flying to 10 new destinations in the last year. Delta recently announced a significant number of new routes from Sea-Tac this year to feed traffic from its international flights from Sea-Tac. At mid-year next year Delta will have 140 flights from the airport on peak days.

To cope with the flood of new passengers, the airport plans a $1.9 billion overhaul and expansion in the next five years. Those projects include a new international arrivals hall, a remodeled and expanded North Satellite and a center runway replacement.

John Gillie: 253-597-8663