United becomes second airline to plan flights out of Paine Field

Six more flights per day expected when commercial service begins in fall 2018
By Nicholas Johnson | Aug 11, 2017
Courtesy of: Propeller Airports An artist's rendering of Propeller Airports' proposed two-gate terminal at Paine Field airport.

United Airlines announced today it will offer six daily flights out of Paine Field airport to gateway hubs at Denver and San Francisco beginning in the fall of 2018.

United is the second airline to sign on to New York-based Propeller Airports’ effort to bring regular commercial air service to the Snohomish County airport. Alaska Airlines announced in mid-May that it would offer some nine flights out of Paine Field beginning in the fall of 2018. Alaska expects to announce destinations early next year.

Together, the airlines would offer some 15 flights per day. That accounts for nearly all of the 16 daily flights that Propeller CEO Brett Smith has said he expects his two-gate terminal will be able to handle, given typical turn times. A 2012 Federal Aviation Administration decision capped daily flights at nearly two dozen.

United’s announcement comes nearly 80 years after it operated the first commercial flight from Paine Field in 1939. The airport was constructed by the Works Progress Administration in 1936, some eight years before Sea-Tac, with the intention of becoming a commercial airport. It initially served as an alternate-day landing field but, due to its use by the Air Force during wartime and opposition from neighboring communities, regular commercial service never took off.

Paine Field has since become the center of Boeing's production facilities, producing many United aircraft, including the 747, 767, 777, and the 787 airplanes, and employing tens of thousands of employees. It’s also home to a major aviation maintenance facility and several flight schools.

United has not yet specified the types of aircraft it would fly out of Paine Field, which currently sees more than 300 flights per day, 96 percent of which come from general aviation and aerospace activity.

While many expect commercial service at Paine Field to reduce southbound traffic on Interstate 5 to Sea-Tac airport by hundreds of cars per day, residents of neighboring Mukilteo have expressed concern about increased traffic on city streets, along with increased noise and the potential for decreased property values.

Mukilteo city officials, as well as many candidates for City Council, have said they intend to lobby the airlines, the county and Propeller for help in mitigating adverse impacts on the city.

Last month, the city’s legal battle over commercial flights at Paine Field came to an end when the state Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of the county’s March 2015 decision to execute an option-to-lease agreement with Propeller before completing an environmental review of plans to construct the two-gate terminal.

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