Vegas, San Fran and more: Alaska Air announces its Paine Field destinations
EVERETT — Alaska Airlines announced last week it will have nonstop service to eight cities from Paine Field as soon as airline service
begins this fall.
The eight nonstop service destinations include Las Vegas, Phoenix, San Diego and San Jose plus Alaska’s hubs in Portland, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Orange County in California is the eighth.
The airline plans to make 13 daily departures. “Flight frequencies for each destination along with departure and arrival times will be announced later in 2018, subject to government approval,” the company said in its announcement.
Alaska would use a mix of Boeing 737s and Embraer 175 regional jets for the flights. Most of the flights would be with Embraer 175s, a company spokesperson said.
The flights will be operated by Horizon Air, an Alaska subsidiary mainly oriented for regional flights. Horizon has flown out of Bellingham since 1987.
Ground broke on the terminal last June and it should be ready this fall. A Herald photo from the site indicates the exterior building framework is already built.
The two-gate terminal is next to the control tower. New York-based Propeller Airports is building the terminal and will act as terminal operator.
Alaska will be joined by United Airlines as the two carriers utilizing Paine Field. United announced plans last August to operate six flights daily from Everett to its hubs in Denver and San Francisco using the hub-and-spoke system. Sending people to two of its hubs would connect Everett flyers worldwide.
County Executive Dave Somers applauded Alaska’s flight plans.
“We know that commercial passenger service will have a significant impact both on our economy and on our ability to attract world-class businesses to our region,” Somers said in press release.
Patrick Pierce, the director and CEO for Economic Alliance Snohomish County, said the flights will be a “huge asset” for the county’s economy.
“Commercial air service at Paine Field will open up countless new opportunities for both business and recreational travelers in and around Snohomish County,” Pierce said in a statement. “Connecting our county to the rest of the world will be a huge asset as we work to strengthen and diversify our local economy.”
The first airline flight would culminate a 10-year push to revive passenger flight at Paine Field.
Starting in 2008, Alaska’s subsidiary Horizon Air was one of two airlines nudging the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to allow commercial flight from Paine Field. The other airline, Allegiant, dropped its plans after Snohomish County awarded Propeller the terminal operating contract in conjunction with building it; Allegiant had wanted to operate the terminal.
Propeller will pay Snohomish County a $425,000 a year lease. It gets its money from charging airlines landing fees.
The terminal went through a protracted legal battle between the City of Mukilteo and some allies concerned about local impacts from regularly scheduled passenger flights. Mukilteo opposed the noise from jet flights over the city and heavier road traffic coming to Paine Field, and challenged the FAA’s determination commercial flight would have no significant impacts. City leaders maintain commercial flight would detract from Mukilteo residents’ quality of life.
The city also had concerns about nighttime jet flights disturbing residents. Propeller reportedly was asked to limit airlines from nighttime flights.
A judge threw out Mukilteo’s appeal against Snohomish County’s over environmental impacts in the permit review process in 2015.
Everett’s leadership supported passenger flights at Paine from day one.
The FAA is beholden to facilitating commercial flight if airlines request to use a federally funded airport. The airport can lose federal funding if it opposes.
The FAA based its impact determination on a metric of 23 flights a day. Today’s plans between Alaska and United would make for 19 flights daily.
Sea-Tac Airport is 40 miles south of Everett. Alaska Airlines calculated last year 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 situated on county land between Mukilteo and Everett and just south of the Boeing Everett plant.
In 2016, the airport averaged 291 flights daily, almost exclusively from general aviation, according to 2016 FAA records posted by website www.airnav.com. Snohomish’s Harvey Field recorded an average of 274 flights a day during 2016, almost exclusively general aviation flights.
Alaska makes approximately 294 departures from its Seattle hub daily; United makes 36 daily departures from Seattle.
The flight selections from Everett match some of Alaska’s strengths.
According to a 2009 corporate fact-sheet, already more than half of Sea-Tac Airport’s flyers heading to Vegas are on an Alaska plane, more than 65 percent of Sea-Tac passengers heading to San Diego fly Alaska, and about 49 percent and 38 percent of the passenger traffic flying from Sea-Tac to Los Angeles International and San Francisco airports, respectively, are on Alaska.
Skewing the numbers is that Alaska represents about half the flights from Seattle; Sea-Tac is Alaska’s primary hub.
One destination missing from the Everett announcement is Spokane, where more than 70 percent of Sea-Tac passengers flying to the Lilac City were on an Alaska plane as of 2009.
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