By Noah Haglund
The Everett Daily Herald
EVERETT — Alaska Airlines plans to offer the first regular commercial flights from Paine Field starting next year.
The carrier made the announcement Wednesday morning. Subject to government approval, Alaska expects to start service in the fall of 2018.
“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,” Brad Tilden, CEO of Alaska Airlines, said in a press release. “Today’s news means less time stuck in traffic on Interstate 5 and more time enjoying your vacation or making the most of your business trip.”
The company plans nine departures a day from Paine Field. Alaska said that Everett residents, by flying from Paine Field compared to Sea-Tac, stand to shave 80 minutes off their travel time during peak traffic congestion.
“Businesses will have easier access to major markets and leisure travelers can skip the commute down south, saving time and fuel,” County Executive Dave Somers said. “For decades, Alaska Airlines has been a responsible neighbor in our region, and we welcome them even closer to home at Paine Field.”
The announcement marks another significant step in a decades-long effort to bring regular commercial passenger flights to the county airport.
Propeller Airports hopes to build a two-gate terminal adjacent to the airport’s control tower. Plans show a 29,000-square-foot building. The county issued a grading permit for the project in April.
“We’re really happy to have Alaska as our launch carrier,” Propeller Airports CEO Brett Smith said.
At nine departures a day, Alaska will account for roughly half of the planned terminal’s capacity.
No potential flight destinations were revealed in the initial release.
Propeller, based in New York City, entered into an option-to-lease agreement with the county two years ago. Once the lease takes effect, the county would receive about $429,000 per year in rent.
Many people in Mukilteo have spent years fighting the idea, raising concerns about noise, traffic and other aspects of their quality of life. They lost key court battles during the past couple of years.
The new terminal could handle up to two dozen takeoffs and landings per day. Paine Field already averages more than 300 daily takeoffs and landings, mostly from general aviation and aerospace companies.