Regional demand for air travel expected to double by 2050

Contact: Josh Brown at 206-464-7515 or

SEATTLE-- The Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) released the results of its Regional Aviation Baseline Study today, projecting demand for take-offs and landings in the region will double by 2050 from over 400,000 to over 800,000 per year. This will result in a projected regional gap in service by 2050 that is roughly equivalent to all the passengers served at Sea-Tac in 2019.

While air travel has slowed sharply due to COVID-19, forecasts show that demand over the long term will continue.

“Before the pandemic, Sea-Tac was bursting at the seams, and once more people feel safe traveling again, it is expected that demand will ramp up quickly and continue to grow into the future,” said Josh Brown, PSRC Executive Director.  “This study lays the groundwork for the state Commercial Aviation Coordinating Commission’s process to identify next steps to address this challenge and prepare for the future.”

The study identifies a range of scenarios that could meet varying levels of the projected demand, with an analysis of the potential economic, environmental, and community impacts. Without expanding capacity, airlines will respond to increased demand by raising ticket prices, delays will become more frequent, it will take longer to move through security, and parking and airport access will become more difficult for most travelers.

The Washington State Legislature created the Commercial Aviation Coordinating Commission as part of the Washington State Department of Transportation. The Commission will develop recommendations to meet the state's critical aviation system capacity needs.

“The two-year Regional Aviation Baseline Study conducted by PSRC has provided the Commercial Aviation Coordinating Commission with an exceptional understanding of the current status of the airports within the region as well as the future capacity needs as communities and businesses continue to grow,” said David Fleckenstein, WSDOT Director of Aviation, adding:

“The projections for aviation demand reinforce the necessity for the Commission to complete its work and make informed recommendations as to what could be done to meet the demand for air passenger service, air cargo operations, and general aviation. The information derived from the PSRC study has and will continue to inform Commission members as the work continues. Speaking for the Commission, we greatly appreciate the work completed by the PSRC team.”

In 2018, PSRC received a $1.6 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration to conduct the Regional Aviation Baseline Study to provide an understanding of the regional aviation system and forecast future needs. Link to study:

About PSRC

PSRC develops policies and coordinates decisions about regional growth, economic development and transportation planning for a growing region. 

Title VI Notice: PSRC fully complies with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and related statutes and regulations in all programs and activities. For more information, or to obtain a Title VI Complaint Form, visit

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