SEATAC — The Seattle-Tacoma International airport saw 93.6 percent fewer passengers in April than it did in April 2019. The Port of Seattle says the number of fliers has fallen so low, they haven’t had this few passengers since 1967, a 53-year low.
The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in fewer flights as well. In April Sea-Tac averaged around 400 takeoffs and landing each day, a decrease of 65.9 percent.
Air cargo has also seen a hit, but not a stark as the drop in passengers. This April Sea-Tac handled 9.6 percent less freight and mail than it did in April of last year, though that’s largely due to changes internationally: domestic air cargo actually increased 4.7 percent, but international cargo fell 45.1 percent in return.
As the airport endures the record-low number of passengers, they’ve launched an online dashboard tracking just how ridership has fallen. The website can be used to look at real-time data on the number of passengers, flights, roadway traffic, and how they compare to this time last year.
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There have been some slight signs of recovery, however. The Port of Seattle says that over the last week, they saw 5,500 fliers a day. That’s more than double the passengers they had at their lowest low, when they saw just 2,600 passengers on April 12. The airport says forecasts are even more optimistic, and they’ve seen up to 8,000 passengers on some of the month’s busiest travel days. They’ve still got a long ways to go though: in May 2019 an average day saw 53,000 departing passengers.
The Port of Seattle says they are ready for more passengers to return to Sea-Tac and have put in place several new safety measures to prevent new transmissions of the coronavirus. Passengers, visitors and employees of the airport are required to wear face coverings at the airport, and Sea-Tac is regularly disinfected with medical-grade sanitizers. Hand sanitizer has also been placed around the terminal and plastic barriers have been installed where possible to create buffers between passengers and airport employees.
Going forward, the airport says they plan to be able to enforce physical distancing in queues and seating areas by June 1, and temperature checks for departing passengers and arriving international passengers set up by June 9.
Related news: Sea-Tac To Require Face Coverings Starting Monday