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Passenger air traffic plunges at Sea-Tac

Restaurants at Sea-Tac International Airport are continuing to serve passengers on a grab-to-go or order-to-go basis. (Port of Seattle Photo)

The number of airline passengers taking off from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport has fallen by two-thirds, due to the coronavirus outbreak and its effect on air travel, officials at the Port of Seattle said today.

Sea-Tac typically sees 50,000 people going through its checkpoints daily at this time of year, but that number has fallen to around 16,000 to 17,000, Lance Lyttle, the airport’s managing director, told reporters at a news briefing.

“That does not include the connecting passengers that would be coming through,” he said. “Normally we would probably have over 140,000, 150,000 passengers in the airport as a whole.”

While passenger traffic has dropped sharply, domestic cargo traffic is at higher than usual levels due to increased online ordering, Lyttle said.

A Port of Seattle blog posting lists 10 shops and restaurants that have temporarily closed, primarily due to restrictions on food service. About two dozen other restaurants remain open on a grab-and-go or order-to-go basis.

Lyttle said Sea-Tac will be joining with other airports around the country in seeking a $10 billion aid package from the federal government to help them cope with the outbreak’s financial effects. That would be in addition to an aid package sought by the nation’s airlines, which is said to amount to $50 billion.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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