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Port Traffic Dips At Seattle, Sea-Tac On Pandemic Spread, But March Numbers Will Be Worse

Activity at the Port of Seattle dropped significantly due to the novel coronavirus.

Activity at the Port of Seattle, which operates both the maritime terminals and SEA Airport, has dropped significantly due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Passenger traffic at SEA Airport, also known as Sea-Tac, dropped 68% as of March 17. An average of 50,000 passengers moved through security checkpoints this time last year. This month, the airport has about 16,000 passengers moving through per day.

The Northwest Seaport Alliance’s total container volume for February 2020 was 260,932 units, which is a 3.1% year-over-year decrease. Full exports increased 4.5% while full imports dropped by 8%. In addition to the coronavirus, tariffs also played a part in the drop, according to an Alliance press release.

The Seaport Alliance suspects March 2020 volumes will be deeply impacted by COVID-19, which contributed to increased ship cancellations.

The Port of Seattle plans to invest $9.5B in the airport and marine terminals over the next decade. In early March, Managing Director David McFadden said the expansion is a testament to the growth happening in the Puget Sound. He did acknowledge, however, the virus will have an unknown impact on the local economy and plans could change if the growth is stifled.