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Sea-Tac Airport growth continues with fifth straight record year for …

Port of Seattle reports nearly 13 percent increase in 2015


information from SeaTac Airport

Passenger traffic at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport set a record for the fifth straight year in 2015, with over 42.3 million overall travelers, according to statistics released today by the Port of Seattle. The total represented a 12.9 percent growth rate over the previous year, including a 14.6 percent increase for international passengers. Sea-Tac has been the fastest growing Top 20 airport in the U.S. for the past two years. Final statistics are still to come for other airports, but Sea-Tac is expected to remain at or near the top in growth.

This growth rate is nearly double what we saw in 2014 7.7 percent and continues to reflect the importance of air travel and cargo to our region s economy, said Port Commissioner Tom Albro. Business and leisure passengers benefit as airlines provide more flights and travel options, translating into more jobs in the community. Our success, however, also highlights the urgency in planning for expanded facilities to meet this growing demand. We are committed to engaging the public and stakeholders in this critical effort.

The total 2015 passenger figure of 42,340,537 beat the previous record set in 2014 of 37,498,267. The new total is roughly equal to the number of visitors the city of Las Vegas welcomed last year. Sea-Tac now sees an average of more than 115,000 travelers per day nearly the size of the city of Bellevue.
Domestic traffic rose 12.7 percent, while international traffic grew at a 14.6 percent rate compared to 2014. International passengers increased to 4,380,346. In 2015, Sea-Tac saw the introduction or announcement of 30 new services on five different airlines, including five new (previously unserved) nonstop destinations: Charleston; Dallas-Love Field; Helena; Oklahoma City; and Raleigh/Durham. The added number of flights did not reduce how full the planes were as Sea-Tac s load factor rose one percent to 88 percent. Load factor is the average number of seats filled for any flight out of Sea-Tac.

Air Cargo increases follow investments

Air cargo numbers also continue to see growth in 2015, led by the increase of international freight. Total air cargo jumped for the fourth straight year in 2015, increasing by 1.7 percent to 332,636 metric tons, including a 7.1 percent jump in international freight to set another record at 115,357 metric tons.
These increases are directly tied to the $20 million investment in two major air cargo projects opened in 2015 to attract the newest, larger freighters being used by the industry. For the first time, Sea-Tac saw more than 1,000 of the largest freighters in one year, with 1,050 in 2015, including at least 175 of the newest Boeing 747-8F and 20 of the Antonov-124 (normally, we typically see 2 -3 of the Antonovs each year). More than half (54.4 percent in 2015) of Sea-Tac air freight is carried aboard freighter aircraft.

Record sales in dining & retail

A record number of passengers also spent a record amount of money in dining and retail during 2015. Preliminary sales for restaurants, shops and passenger services totaled more than $241 million, a 9.7 percent gain over 2014. Sales per boarded (or enplaned) passenger was $11.46. Sales for food and beverage jumped 13.5 percent, while retail sales saw an increase of 7.4 percent. The Port earned just over $36 million in revenues from dining and retails sales, which go directly back to airport improvements. More airfield details

Airport operations (aircraft landings and departures) increased 12 percent in 2015 compared to 2014, with 381,408 operations. This was the fifth straight year Sea-Tac has seen an increase in travelers. The last yearly decrease came in 2009 (-3.0 percent) after the national economic downturn. Since 2002, Sea-Tac s passenger traffic has seen an annual increase in 12 of the last 13 years. Measured by percentage, 2015 s 12.9 percent increase is the largest increase at Sea-Tac since 1986, when traffic jumped 19 percent. Anthony s Restaurant, in the central terminal, is believed to be the highest grossing airport restaurant in North America with a little more than $14 million in sales for 2015.

Notable 2015 product sales from Hudson retail:
131,969 Seahawks items sold
8,930 Sleepless in Seattle night shirts
51,191 packages of mini pretzels
105,663 packages of peanut M&M s

butter London: sold 20,190 nail lacquers, performed 15,682 manicures and 8,152 pedicures.utter London: sold 20,190 nail lacquers, performed 15,682 manicures and 8,152 pedicures.

Massage Bar: served 50,000 customers and performed 87,000 massages of 15 minutes each.

Vital Heathrow expansion must not be held up by craven politics …

Grounded: Controversial plans for a third runway at Heathrow have been deferred by David Cameron. Photograph: ANDREW COWIE/AFP/Getty Images

Britain is not as good at making things as it could and should be. Nor is it very good, despite the hype, at financial services. Its widely trumpeted success is built on turning a blind eye to quasi-criminality in investment banking and to systemic fleecing of ignorant customers in the asset management industry through an opaque and self-serving fee structure.

But Britain does have one trump card. It is the location capital of the world. Britain is the European or world headquarters of 469 global companies, according to the EY Inward Investment Monitor. No other European country comes close: Germany is home to 86 global companies, Switzerland 84 and France 77. The resulting dense concentration of high-end business decision-making spawns whole industries to service it. These include IT, law, accounting, insurance, lawful banking, design and advertising. It represents the unspoken and dynamic core of the British economy worth many millions of jobs. There are four clusters of reasons why companies headquarter in Britain. First and foremost there is the language, the time zone, the rule of law and what we might call the funkiness of London. London is where the action is firms come because other firms are here. Second, it is the only substantive, front-rank nation run as an international tax haven. Third, Britain is a member of the European Union, giving immediate access to the largest single market in the world. And finally, via Heathrow, it boasts the best connectivity of any world city. Nearly every one of the 469 multinationals is located within an hour of Heathrow (Hillingdon, Windsor, Hounslow and Slough are the four favourites) with its array of scheduled long haul flights to 200 world cities. Since the emergence of Britain as the centre of globalisation and of London as the de facto capital of Europe, the attendant advantages and disadvantages have never been openly debated. Against the obvious pluses there is the malign over-concentration of the benefits in the densely populated south-east of England, and the disgraceful weakening of the tax base by excusing international businesses and rich individuals from paying UK tax. Then there s the excuse it gives for a lack of will to design a financial ownership and innovation architecture to create great British companies that could make the rest of the country as wealthy as the home counties.

But the level-headed response is surely to push for reforms that might address those deficiencies while guarding against losing or weakening the assets we have. That means sustaining and expanding Heathrow in the interests of the entire country. It is why the deferral of the decision again last week[1] to build a vitally needed third runway solely to prevent splits in the Conservative party should be of such concern to everyone. For as the Airports Commission, led by Sir Howard Davies, reported in the summer, Heathrow has been full for years. With only two runways it can offer no more long-haul flights to existing or new destinations without cutting out the remaining feeder flights from UK airports, notably in Scotland and the north of England. These are crucial to its role as a hub airport, and in turn are crucial to the feeder airports. Hubs are the way the international aviation industry now operates, whether in Europe or in the middle east. Heathrow is the UK s hub airport. Like it or hate it, it is the centre of a dense network of connectivity vital to the health of the way the economy is now structured. Constrain Heathrow s growth or try to uproot it and you constrain the growth of the entire ecosystem that has based its investment and location decisions on Heathrow staying where it is. The cumulative cost over 60 years of freezing Heathrow s capacity runs to between 60bn and 70bn.

It is obvious with hindsight that when aviation developed in the 1920s and 1930s London s airport should have been located in the Thames estuary with noisy flights coming in over the sea. But the homes of the wealthy and the best ground connections were all in the west. Hence Heathrow. Now the flight paths cruise in over half a million people in west London over some of the best heeled and most articulate in the country. It is their objections that are driving deferral yet again, holding the entire country to ransom. But should they be so powerful and are their objections sound? For a start, while obviously a third new runway will mean more flights, it will also mean more respite. Heathrow will be able to close between 11.30pm and 6am and be 100% silent, and still have sufficient capacity to increase long-haul flights to new destinations in Asia and Latin America during the day. Perhaps there is no harm in double-checking the environmental impact . But the next generation of wide-bodied aircraft are significantly quieter, and their engines are much more carbon-efficient. The Airports Commission modelled the effect of a new northwestern runway on air quality, and argues that all international standards can be met. As for Gatwick, to build additional capacity there would be a classic wasteful fudge. It carries only 11% of scheduled flights, so that it could not be the national hub even with the extra capacity and its road and rail connections, already barely adequate, are in the south, blocked by London.

Yet none of this cuts any ice. It is internal Tory party politics that is driving the deferral and will perhaps for ever obstruct the go-ahead for any new runway. London Conservative mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith threatened to resign his Richmond Park seat and force a byelection in effect a mini referendum of those under the flight path if David Cameron[2] dared to give the green light. Forget the guff about the need for further environmental investigation (which in any case has already been done) and about which this carelessly non-green government does not give a fig. Cameron funked it. The open question is whether he will funk it again. It is impossible to read Howard Davies s fastidiously fair and analytical Airports Commission report[3] without being convinced of the case for Heathrow expansion: business and unions are united in wanting it to happen. But who is interested in promoting a London-wide and national interest? Not Zac Goldsmith. Not his Labour mayoral opponent, Sadiq Khan, on the same bandwagon. Not David Cameron. Of course there will be some losers to qualify the greater public interest. But a political system that can t even deliver a self-evidently needed airport runway has become very rotten indeed.


  1. ^ deferral of the decision again last week (www.transport-network.co.uk)
  2. ^ David Cameron (www.theguardian.com)
  3. ^ Airports Commission report (www.gov.uk)

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