Last updated: 03:41 PM ET, Tue March 03 2015

With Paine Field, A New Player Enters the Battle for Seattle

Airlines & Airports | Patrick Clarke | March 03, 2015

With Paine Field, A New Player Enters the Battle for Seattle

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Seattle-Tacoma International Airport isn't going anywhere anytime soon. Still, the Emerald City could soon welcome travelers via a secondary airport just few miles north up Interstate 5.

According to Jake Whittenberg of KING 5 News, New York-based airport developer Propeller Airports is now all clear to design and construct a terminal at Paine Field in Everett, Washington, after the local Snohomish County Council gave it the green light via a narrow 3-2 vote on Monday.

Paine Field, located roughly 25 miles north of Seattle, shares a runway with the Boeing Company and operates up to 300 flights daily, some of which are large jetliners tested and manufactured by Boeing.

If Propeller is able to design an approved terminal and complete the necessary environmental studies within three years, the company could move forward with a 30-year lease to open up the airport to commercial operations.

But such efforts are likely to be met by stiff opposition, writes Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren of USA Today. The Mayor of the nearby City of Mukilteo, Jennifer Gregerson, is one of many who are disappointed in the county's decision and fear it will result in unwanted noise, traffic and pollution. 

Currently, Propeller is considering a two-gate passenger terminal to handle a limited daily flight schedule at first.
Although Propeller CEO Brett Smith expects fewer than 10 flights per day, the terminal will likely possess the capacity to handle up to two dozen flights daily.

The next and arguably most important step would be securing airline service at Paine Field.

"We'd love to have an airline like an Alaska," said Snohomish County Councilman Dave Summers via Dwyer-Lindgren. "That's our hope, that we have a very high quality carrier." 

Dwyer-Lindgren notes that both Allegiant Air and Alaska Airlines have shown interest in Paine Field as recently as 2008.

"As the hometown carrier with longstanding and deep ties in the region, Alaska Airlines is keenly interested in terminal construction that could make commercial service possible at Paine Field," said Alaska Air in a statement earlier this week. "We are taking a fresh look at Paine Field to determine whether the demand exists to support commercial service in this market and the role Alaska Airlines would have in meeting that demand."

Nearby Sea-Tac is one of Alaska Airlines' four hubs, and the airline has added motivation to move in on Paine Field as it's in the midst of an ongoing turf war with Delta Air Lines in Seatte.

Summers added that Snohomish County hopes to attract service to nearby destinations, including Spokane, Washington, and Portland, Oregon, as well as the San Francisco Bay Area.

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