International travel driving airport growth in Washington

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by GLENN FARLEY / KING 5 aviation specialist

NWCN.com

Posted on February 21, 2014 at 7:40 PM

SEA-TAC AIRPORT - From 2003 to 2013, Sea-Tac Airport has seen growth in international travel in and out of the region's biggest and busiest airport grow 121 percent. 

To help accommodate that growing demand, the airport Friday opened another 14 ticket counters at the south end of the terminal dedicated primarily to international flights.

The reader board checks off a growing list of names: Lufthansa from Germany, Emirates based in Dubai,  Hainan from China, ANA of Japan, even service to and through Iceland.

 "Part of it is the function of aircraft technology,"  said Mark Reis, Sea-Tac's managing director. "The 787 in particular provides a very economical way to go longer distances into smaller markets."

 Both ANA and China's Hainan fly the 787 between Sea-Tac and cities in Asia, and Sea-Tac is in discussions with other Asian carriers about additional flights.

The longer, thinner routes flown by the Boeing 787, 777 and Airbus jets like the 330 mean more direct service without having to fly first to airports like LAX and San Francisco to be consolidated with other passengers on jumbos like the B747 and A380.

But the growth isn't limited to Sea-Tac. At Bellingham International Airport just 18 miles south of the Canadian border, a newly expanded terminal was just dedicated this week.

Bellingham has seen traffic grow 600 percent in just eight years. Many passengers are Canadians  from the province of lower British Columbia, who take advantage of a growing number of lower cost flights out of Bellingham on airlines like Allegiant and Alaska.

Bellingham now sees 109 flights a week.  The new $38.5 million terminal is almost four times larger than the old one and is paid for through airport revenues.  The airport has also expanded parking.  The Port of Bellingham owns the airport.
 

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