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International flights expanding at Sea-Tac Airport

Sea-Tac is one of the busiest and fastest-growing airports in the country. Much of that growth is due to new and returning international flights.

Sea-Tac International Airport remains one of the fastest-growing large airports in the country, and now ranks as the 8th busiest. A lot of that growth is coming from international carriers.

But who are they? In 2019, we’ve seen the return of Japan Airlines after a long absence, and Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific for the first time. Both began on March 31, and Cathay expects to offer a daily service by July after starting out with service four days a week.

Singapore Airlines expects to offer service starting in September. Then there’s domestic giant Delta offering a seasonal route directly between Sea-Tac and Osaka, Japan.

“We’ve actually had Seattle on our radar for a long time,” says Cathay’s CEO Rupert Hogg. The airline has long-offered service to Vancouver, B.C. with three flights a day there, but says there’s nothing like direct service, which is why the carrier has added Seattle and additional markets in the U.S., including upcoming flights to Washington, D.C.

RELATED: Massive pedestrian walkway at Sea-Tac Airport becoming a reality

In 2018, Sea-Tac welcomed the return of Air France, Aer Lingus to Ireland, and Thomas Cook, seasonally to Manchester, UK.

In 2017, Sea-Tac saw Virgin Atlantic add service to London’s Heathrow Airport, AeroMexico to Mexico City, and Norwegian seasonally through London’s Gatwick Airport.

The current wave got rolling in 2016, with Volaris to Guadalajara, Mexico and Xiamen to China. That’s 11 new or returning airlines, plus an additional route by a domestic carrier.

So how much is that worth to the local economy? 

"One route can represent anywhere in between $74 to 80 to 90 million dollars a year,” said Sea-Tac Managing Director Lance Lyttle. 

That’s money spent here on local jobs, meals, fuel and other goods and services that airlines need to serve new markets.

RELATED: More Northwest-based restaurants coming to Sea-Tac Airport

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