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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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It’s not easy being green when it comes to jet fuel

Biofuel fillup for Alaska Airlines
Swissport fuel manager Jarid Svraka fuels an Alaska Airlines flight powered with a 20 percent blend of biofuel made from wood waste at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in 2016. (Alaska Airlines Photo)

For years, the Port of Seattle has been talking about weaning Seattle-Tacoma International Airport off fossil fuels, but now it’s getting serious about taking action.

“At a certain point in time, you just have to say, ‘Well, let’s make a run for it,’ ” Port Commissioner Fred Felleman told GeekWire. “It can’t be just an intellectual pursuit.”

But it’s not totally up to the port: A new network of interlocking infrastructures will have to be created, connecting farmers with refiners, distributors and users.

That’s the motivation behind the Washington Sustainable Aviation Fuels Summit, set to take place on March 7-8 at the Bell Harbor International Conference Center in Seattle. The event, hosted by Earth Day Northwest 2020, is meant to bring together stakeholders who can get Sea-Tac closer to its goal of having at least 10 percent of its fuel come from sustainable sources by 2028.

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