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Paine Field celebrates first passenger flights

Water cannon arch
Fire trucks shoot out sprays of water to form a celebratory arch for the first Alaska Airlines jet to take off on a scheduled passenger flight from Paine Field in Everett, Wash. (GeekWire Photo / Alan Boyle)

EVERETT, Wash. — Today marks a “first” for the new passenger airline terminal at Everett’s Paine Field, thanks to Alaska Airlines’ kickoff of daily service. But it’s a “second” for Thomas Paine, the grandnephew of the airport’s namesake.

Paine and another grandnephew, Nicholas Moe, were here in 1955 when the airport dedicated a bust of their granduncle, airmail pilot Topliff Olin Paine, who grew up in Everett. The bust has since disappeared, but to mark today’s terminal opening, dignitaries dedicated a bronze statue of the elder Paine, standing right on the curb where passengers walk in to catch their flights.

Thomas Paine and Moe pulled the veil off the statue, rekindling 64-year-old memories in the process. “Things have changed a lot since then,” Paine said.

When it’s fully up and running, the 30,000-square-foot terminal will offer 24 daily nonstop flights to eight destinations in the western U.S., providing a quicker alternative to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport for northern Puget Sound communities.

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Shutdown is a real Paine for Alaska Airlines

Paine Field
An artist’s conception shows Alaska Airlines planes at Everett’s Paine Field passenger terminal. (Propeller Airports Illustration)

The much-anticipated first commercial airline flights from Paine Field in Everett, Wash., have been postponed until March 4 at the earliest, due to the partial government shutdown.

Alaska Airlines had been planning to start service at Paine Field on Feb. 11, pending government approval. But it turns out that the previous sentence’s dependent clause carried more than the usual weight.

“Several key groups within the Federal Aviation Administration, which conduct crucial certification and oversight work required for the start of commercial air service at Paine Field, are subject to furloughs because of the government shutdown,” Alaska Airlines explained today in a blog posting. “The FAA’s work on the environmental assessment continues. However, essential work groups within the FAA are furloughed and further delays are expected if the shutdown continues.”

In light of the snag, Alaska said “the responsible action” was to postpone the start of scheduled service until March 4 — again, “subject to receipt of all required government approvals.”

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Southwest Airlines announces Everett flights

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Southwest Airlines is the third and final airline to announce commercial passenger service to Paine Field in Everett, Wash. (Boeing Photo)

Southwest Airlines says it’ll add up to five flights to the daily departure schedule for the yet-to-be-completed passenger terminal at Paine Field in Everett, Wash.

That makes Southwest the third airline to plan service to Everett, after Alaska Airlines and United — and the terminal’s operator, Propeller Airports, says there’ll be no more.

“We’re full,” the Everett Herald quoted Propeller CEO Brett Smith as saying. “That’s it, there are no more airline announcements. Any other airline that comes will be told there’s no more room.”

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Alaska Airlines plans flights from Everett

Paine Field passenger terminal
An artist’s conception shows the passenger terminal that’s planned for Everett’s Paine Field. (Propeller Airports Illustration)

Bugged by I-5 traffic to Sea-Tac? Alaska Airlines is promising a work-around: The Seattle-based airline says it will start running regularly scheduled passenger flights out of Everett’s Paine Field starting next year.

“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,” Alaska Airlines CEO Brad Tilden said today in a news 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.”

Alaska said it would offer nine daily flights from Paine Field, using Boeing 737s and Embraer 175 regional jets, subject to government approvals.

“We’re not quite ready to share details of the routes,” John Kirby, Alaska’s vice president of capacity planning, said in an airline blog posting. “But I can tell you they won’t be limited to short, regional flights. We’re talking daily, nonstop flights to some of our most popular destinations.”

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