Alaska Airlines will start daily flights from Everett's Paine Field

AP file photo

EVERETT, Wash. -- Alaska Airlines will begin daily flights from Paine Field in the fall of 2018.

The airline announced Wednesday that it will have up to nine daily departures from the airport, using Boeing 737s and Embraer 175s. Alaska is expected to announce schedules and begin selling tickets early 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,” said CEO of Alaska Airlines Brad Tilden in statement. “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 airline intends to use Paine Field for something more than short flights around the Northwest.

“We’re not quite ready to share details of the routes,” John Kirby, Alaska’s vice president of capacity planning, said in the company's blog. “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.”

The flights are sure to arouse the ire of those who live near the airport. Commercial flights at Paine Field, where Boeing operates a huge plant, have been a sore point for those who live nearby.

Mukilteo Mayor Jennifer Gregerson said Wednesday that she is disappointed by Alaska Airlines' announcement. "We still believe that there are better uses at Paine airport rather than commercial service.".

She said people who live nearby are worried about the noise and traffic that would come with commercial service.

The mayor said she fears that once commercial flights have begun at Paine Field they will ultimately grow.

"Our biggest concern is that once you open that door to commercial service it will be very difficult for the county to shut that door."

Still, Mukilteo has an agreement with Paine Field that, for the time being, limits the number of commercial flights and the times the flights can occur.

The city of Mukilteo and the Save Our Communities group went to court recently to stop commercial flights at Paine Field. An appeals court denied the legal challenge in January.

That case has been appealed to the Washington State Supreme Court, Gregerson said.

Joe Sprague, senior vice president for external affairs at Alaska, said he didn't think the limited number of flights would have a major impact on Paine Field. But he said motorists should see a positive impact as fewer cars drive through Seattle to Sea-Tac.

An Alaska news release announcing the flights includes supportive statements from Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson and Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers, who called the airline's announcement "great news for Snohomish County."

Propeller Airports intended to break ground on a terminal in June.

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