SEATAC, Wash. — Overseas flights are returning to Sea-Tac Airport after a steep decline in international traffic during the pandemic, according to the Port of Seattle.
Sea-Tac had 42 international flights pre-pandemic. The airport now has 30, including some new destinations, such as Doha, Qatar.
Flights to Paris, Tokyo, and Singapore are scheduled to resume in December.
Starting Monday, the U.S. began accepting fully vaccinated travelers at airports and land borders, doing away with a COVID-19 restriction that dates back to the Trump administration. The new rules allow air travel from previously restricted countries as long as the traveler has proof of vaccination and a negative COVID-19 test. Land travel from Mexico and Canada will require proof of vaccination but no test.
Airlines are expecting more travelers from Europe and elsewhere. Data from travel and analytics firm Cirium showed airlines are increasing flights between the United Kingdom and the U.S. by 21% this month over last month.
The Port of Seattle said there was a slight increase in international passenger traffic Monday.
Prior to this week, Sea-Tac averaged 2,100 – 2,400 international passengers on Mondays. The airport was anticipating about 3,100 international travelers Monday as COVID-19 restrictions loosened.
The reopening of the United States to international travelers is a much-needed boost for merchants at Pike Place Market, which welcomed visitors from around the globe prior to the pandemic.
“It's been challenging, a lot slower, but it's picking up,” said Dan Gregory, an artist who has been selling his works at the market for 19 years.