TACOMA – Passenger traffic is booming at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
The News Tribune of Tacoma reported that traffic could reach 42 million passengers this year, nearly 8 million higher than in 2013.
The growth is fed in part by an undeclared battle between its two busiest airlines.
Sea-Tac last year was one of the nation’s fastest-growing large airports, jumping from 15th-busiest in 2013 to 13th-busiest in 2014, the newspaper reported.
The airport’s traffic surpassed the number at Newark’s Liberty Airport, which was in 14th place.
New statistics from the Port of Seattle, the airport’s owner, show that traffic is increasing at a rate three times what airport planners had predicted as Alaska Airlines, which has the largest share of traffic at Sea-Tac, battles with Delta Air Lines for market share.
Alaska’s Sea-Tac business was up 13.1 percent in the first four months of year. Delta’s increase in that same period was 43.9 percent on a smaller number of passengers.
Alaska and Delta have become rivals for domestic business.
Delta plans to grow its daily departures to 125 by the year’s end. Alaska and its sister airline, Horizon Air, have more than 50 percent of the airport’s traffic.
Delta has invaded Alaska’s traditional territory with flights to Alaska and to West Coast cities. Meanwhile, Alaska has expanded its reach to more cities on the East Coast and in the Midwest.
Alaska has added nonstop flights to New Orleans; Baltimore; Detroit; Tampa, Florida; Raleigh, North Carolina; and Charleston, South Carolina.
Delta is growing its domestic network from Sea-Tac to feed its growing list of international routes from the airport. Delta now flies to Hong Kong; Seoul, South Korea; Beijing; Shanghai; and Tokyo’s two airports, Narita and Haneda, in Asia from Sea-Tac. The Atlanta-based carrier also flies nonstop from Sea-Tac to London, Amsterdam and Paris.
The airport’s international traffic was up nearly 16 percent in April.
Sea-Tac is in the midst of $1.9 billion in improvements to handle the increased traffic, including a complete overhaul and expansion of the North Satellite Terminal for Alaska and the construction of a new International Arrivals facility.
Sea-Tac spokesman Perry Cooper attributed the growth to the region’s strong economy and robust population growth.
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