This week, Seattle Tacoma International Airport began its latest Central Terminal construction project as figures for 2017 show the airport achieved a record year for passenger numbers and cargo handled, and the Seattle area as a whole experiences economic boom.

The record 46.9 million passengers and 425,800 metric tons of air cargo handled by Sea-Tac in 2017 is a rise of 41 percent over the past five years — each of which has experienced consecutive growth.

This growth gives enormous confidence to the Port of Seattle as it pushes ahead with $2 billion in construction projects at the airport. These started three years ago, with work on the new International Arrivals Facility and North Satellite Modernization projects currently underway. It will now continue with the new $17 million Central Terminal Renovation Project which broke ground Feb. 8.

This latest scheme will help the airport better cater for the higher number of passengers now traveling through and will update the aging structure with 10,000 square feet of extra space and amenities for dining and shopping. It includes a more spacious feel for passengers, charging stations and a new mezzanine level with elevators and views across the airfield through the iconic wall of windows.

Work on the Central Terminal Renovation will take place in two phases, split into north and south sections. Construction on the north side will be completed in early 2019, and the south side by the end of 2019.

An artist's rendering of the renovated Central Terminal at Seattle Tacoma International Airport. (Image: Seattle Tacoma International Airport)

During construction, most of the Central Terminal will be closed to passengers. However, some of the existing concessions will operate from temporary kiosks, and seating areas will be relocated.

Sea-Tac is an important driver for the local economy. A recent document estimates it directly supported $5.6 billion in economic activity and 19,100 jobs in 2017. The investments being made in the airport are designed to ensure it can continue to support this local economy, as well as that of Washington state as a whole. It expects the bulk of the work on its upgrade to be completed by 2022.

"It takes a highly skilled village to serve 46 million passengers while simultaneously building world-class facilities," said Courtney Gregoire, Port of Seattle Commission President. "Record-breaking demand is not enough. We also need to deliver record-breaking results for local businesses, local workers, and neighborhoods closest to the airport. Between airport construction and airport-related development in the area, we are partnering with communities to make even closer connections on job and business opportunities."

Major corporations like Amazon, Facebook, Google and Microsoft continue to attract business to the Seattle area and encourage the growth of the local tech industry. Sea-Tac airport has seen a number of new carriers establish or grow long-haul routes over the past year, including Icelandair, Norwegian and Virgin Atlantic.

Aer Lingus, Air France and Thomas Cook will begin flying to the airport this year, and a number of domestic carriers are growing their networks from Seattle this year. Seattle is now the nation's ninth-busiest airport.