Sea-Tac Airport to lose $251M through 2020 amid pandemic

SEATTLE (AP) — Nosediving passenger traffic and flight cancellations will cost Seattle-Tacoma International Airport approximately $251 million by the end of 2020, airport director Lance Lyttle said Thursday, representing a 37% blow to the airport’s anticipated revenue for the year.

The anticipated hit to revenues is well above the $192 million in federal funds authorized for the airport’s use by the coronavirus aid package, The Seattle Times reported.

Sea-Tac will draw on the federal funds to service debt, cover payroll and meet operating expenses like maintenance and security, Lyttle said.

Most of the revenue decrease comes from losses in retail and dining rents, parking and rental car operators and ground transportation companies.

Preliminary figures for April show a 95% drop in passenger traffic compared to last year, Lyttle said. Airlines canceled nearly 680 flights in April, double what they canceled in March. Amid the pandemic, just one international flight departs from Sea-Tac some days of the week.

Nearly 1,600 of Sea-Tac’s 2,100 dining and retail employees have been laid off or furloughed, Lyttle said. Two weeks ago, the Port deferred rent for airport dining and retail tenants affected by the pandemic.

But all of the airport’s 19,000 workers — from air traffic employers and pilots, to flight kitchen workers and wheelchair escorts — have been affected by an emptier Sea-Tac, said Port of Seattle Commissioner Stephanie Bowman Thursday.

“Financial stability for individuals is really what we’re concerned about now,” Bowman said. “The pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on those who were already furthest from middle class.”

The Port has partnered with nonprofits Fair Work Center and Port Jobs to connect laid-off workers and Port employers to resources and new hiring opportunities.

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