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Paine Field may see Alaska Airlines service start in 2018

EVERETT —  Alaska Airlines plans to begin passenger flights out of Paine Field by fall 2018.
The airline announced it intends to fly nine flights per day after the new terminal is constructed at the airport between Everett and
Mukilteo. The destinations haven’t been announced yet, but the airline will be using Boeing 737s and midsized Embraer 175 jets. Regional hops to places west of the Rockies was suggested by an Alaska vice president in a company blog post.
A private company is set to start building a two-gate terminal next to the control tower sometime next month and will act as the terminal operator. The terminal can handle up to 16 flights, and possibly a second airline.
Everett and county leaders cheered the news. Mukilteo’s mayor called the announcement premature, noting it’s still in the fight.
Mukilteo has fought commercial flight at Paine Field ever since the idea emerged. Its City Hall says the noise and traffic impacts from the nearby airport would detract from Mukilteo residents’
quality of life.
The city has one final appeal about an environmental impact study yet to be heard by the state Supreme Court. The appeal could get formally docketed this summer, and if it does, Mayor Jennifer Gregerson said “it could force the entire project back to the drawing board.”
Paine Field is the runway used by The Boeing Co.’s nearby plant, and acts as the landing strip for the aviation maintenance industry surrounding the airport. It has one large runway for all large planes.
Paine Field makes sense to Alaska Airlines.
“As our region continues to grow at a record pace and Sea-Tac Airport nears capacity, the time is right to bring air service to our valued guests living in the North Sound,” airline CEO Brad Tilden said via a press release.
If flights begin, travelers’ commutes would shrink.
Sea-Tac Airport is 40 miles south of Everett. The airline calculates from traffic data that departing from Everett versus Sea-Tac could shave up to 80 minutes in
drive time during peak congestion traffic for local residents.
The airport is on county land between Everett and
Mukilteo, leaving county officials to navigate the process of bringing a terminal up to speed.
The legwork at Paine Field was prompted in 2008 after Alaska Airlines and Allegiant Air, of Las Vegas, notified the Federal Aviation Administration of being interested in flying passenger service from Paine Field. Airports are essentially beholden to FAA requests for commercial flight to keep receiving
federal funding, which forced the issue despite some opposition from county councilmembers.
The county shelved building its own terminal
after airport facility company Propeller Airports, based in New York, made a surprise offer in 2014 to build the terminal and profit off of the leases. The terminal builder would be paying the county $429,000 a year in the deal.
The county previously declined a pushy offer from Allegiant Air to build the terminal and then act as airport leaseholder, which would
have let it set and collect carrier fees from other airlines such as Alaska.
Allegiant walked away from its interest after being rebuffed, and Allegiant last week said through a spokeswoman that “there’s nothing in discussion at this time”

 

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