Pontifications: Limited operations raise doubts over Paine Field airline service

By Scott Hamilton

April 9, 2018, © Leeham News: This fall, the Seattle area will get a second passenger airport: three airlines will begin service at Paine Field, in Everett, which is also home to Boeing’s massive wide-body production plant.

Alaska, Southwest and United airlines will offer 24 fights out of two gates that are under construction.

It’s the first passenger service from Paine Field.

It’s not hardly enough.

Bitter fight

After a long, bitter fight that lasted the better part of a decade, highly limited airline operations at Paine Field were approved.

The cities filed lawsuits, fought the Federal Aviation Administration (which had to approve commercial operations), challenged the adequacy of the environmental impact statement and otherwise engaged in what most believed would be an inevitably losing battle.

Proponents of the service argued that 24 flights a day would hardly make a dent into the operations of the airport, which is dominated by test flights by Boeing for wide-body aircraft (all much larger than the single-aisle airplanes that would be used by airline operations).

Boeing also flies its 747 Dreamlifter fleet into Paine Field for 787 production. Occasionally, the giant Antonov cargo jet flies into Paine to support Boeing.

The airport is also home to a maintenance base that services Airbus and Boeing airliners.

Limited operations

Just two gates and a maximum of 24 flights were approved. The effort was prompted by a plan by ultra-low-cost carrier Allegiant Airlines to offer service at Paine.

Allegiant’s business model focuses on small cities or unused airports to popular leisure destinations such as Las Vegas, Phoenix and Orlando. Allegiant serves Bellingham, an hour’s drive north of Everett and two hours from Seat-Tac, Seattle’s commercial airport.

Allegiant was likely to offer only four or five flights a week from Paine, but the proposal caused an uproar with the adjacent town governments of Mukilteo and Edmonds. The city councils and airport opponents feared that approving Allegiant would be the camel’s nose under the tent for more commercial service.

The fears weren’t unfounded, as events proved. Although Allegiant, ironically, did not seek to provide service once it was cleared by Snohomish County, which owns and operates the airport, Alaska, Southwest and United did.

Alaska will offer 13 flights to eight cities: Portland, San Jose, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange County, Las Vegas and Phoenix.

United will connect Paine to its hubs in Denver and San Francisco with six flights. Southwest will offer five flights to as-yet unidentified cities, though its Oakland hub will probably be one of them.

Limited flights mean poor service

The limited number of flights to more than 10 cities means poor service.

Business people, who make up 80% of the travelers, like frequency. The fragmented, announced operations means there won’t be much frequency.

Alaska’s service to Las Vegas probably will be one trip. So might Phoenix, a popular vacation destination. Orange County, the nearest airport to Disneyland, may also be a one-trip destination.

This leaves 10 trips for five business cities, or two flights a day. This isn’t a decent businessman’s schedule.

United’s less-ambitious plans could provide three daily round trips to its hubs. This is probably the bare minimum for business travelers.

Southwest’s plans are a mystery since it hasn’t announced cities to be served. Southwest typically, but not always, likes frequency.

The other problem with this limited schedule is what happens with a flight cancellation?

With a lack of frequency, the three airlines naturally would accommodate passengers on the Seattle service.

Now the passenger’s car is at Paine Field while he’s as Sea-Tac.

Bad idea.

What should have happened

The Paine Field service should have, from the get-go, been a 10-gate facility that could serve 100 flights. This would provide frequency, broaden the cities served and more likely ensure success. This, of course, is precisely the camel the opponents fear.

But such a plan would mean a solid number of direct and indirect jobs.

It would also mean more noise. But there is little sympathy for those who move under the flight path or near an airport and then complain about the noise.

The success of the fragmented service proposed and the lack of frequency raises serious questions whether the Paine Field service will be successful.

51 Comments on “Pontifications: Limited operations raise doubts over Paine Field airline service

  1. Sorry to disagree with you Scott. Even though I have little sympathy for people who move near an airport, there does seem to be a lot of political sympathy and support for such people.

    Funny, but this is exactly the business model that Ryanair uses. Find a smaller, alternate airport somewhere near (anywhere up to 100 km/about 60 miles) from the city in question and use it as a destination for said city. Seeing as Americans are more likely to drive than take public transit, this might be a big pro for duplicating the model in the USA.

    On the con side is the fact that Ryanair is not really that big of a business traveller’s airline. I get the impression that many more people use it for leisure travel rather than business. Here I believe the flexibility in working hours and holidays that is common in Europe is one large reason why it works there.

    Am curious to see how it will work out at Paine Field.

    • Hello Aero Ninja,

      Regarding: “Funny, but this is exactly the business model that Ryanair uses. ……..Seeing as Americans are more likely to drive than take public transit, this might be a big pro for duplicating the model in the USA.”

      Southwest doesn’t need to duplicate Ryanair’s business model because Southwest was using it several decades before Ryanair even existed. It is Ryanair whose business model was inspired by, although not an exact copy of, Southwest’s. See the excerpt below from a September 2015 Fortune article, which was mostly about how Southwest is trying to expand into long haul business travel. See the link after the excerpt for the full article.

      “For decades Southwest has flown mainly to small airports in big urban markets, where it faced weak competition and could quickly turn around its planes from landing to takeoff. Now it’s invading America’s biggest, most-congested airports and going nose-cone-to-nose-cone with its newly resurgent big rivals—American, Delta, and United Continental—where they’re strongest.”


      • The NIMBY’s failed in their efforts to prevent passenger service at Everett’s Paine field; however, in 2005 they were successful in shooting down Southwest’s attempt to move from SeaTac to Seattle’s Boeing field. See the October 2005 New York Times article at the link below. Immediately below is an excerpt from the article.

        “SEATTLE – SOUTHWEST AIRLINES knows a good opportunity when it sees one. The airline’s attempted move to Seattle’s smallish Boeing Field from the newer Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, known as Sea-Tac, was going to be just one more victory for Southwest.

        But last week, opposition from neighborhood and business groups in Seattle stopped the airline as it tried to follow its proven strategy of using older, regional airports to slash costs and reel in customers happy to shave 15 or more minutes of travel time from their trips to the airport.”


        • Alaska Airlines was behind the push to kill Boeing Field as an alternative. They said it threatened their viability. Fast forward to today, imagine if Alaska could have gotten their hands on Southwest’s gates at Seatac? It would give them a bit of breathing room.

      • Sorry AP_Robert, I did not know that about Southwest. Had always assumed they flew out of the standard airports.
        Although Ryanair does not care if customers can cut 15 minutes of travel time to the airport. More like the opposite occurs.

  2. Alaska’s PAE schedule is no accident. With a Seatac base, Alaska has no incentive to see Paine succeed as a business airport, and with that schedule, Alaska minimizes the chance that ever happens, because as you note, it’s not useful to anyone but a leisure traveler.

    So PAE’s best and highest use remains frustrated.

    Alaska is effectively blocking PAE and will continue to do so as long as it can.

    If Southwest is smart, it will put all five PAE frequencies into one city, like SFO or LAX to demonstrate the business utility of PAE. You’re right, PAE needs to be immensely bigger than it is. SEA is full, and traveling from the north of Seattle to SEA is a nightmare.

    • I have taken the bus from Bham to SEA a number of times and its been a decent trip.

      Everett would be nicer for me with the right connections (not likely)

      You can loop around most of Seattle on the East Side Loop (405?)

        • Microsoft headquarters is in Redmond near 405, so the 405 gets the rush hour traffic from Microsoft and other computer businesses in the area. Expedia and T-Mobile have headquarters in Bellevue, also along the 405.

  3. Scott, thanks for a very interesting article. I think it raises at least two questions. One, how close to capacity is SeaTac? And Two, do the residents in the towns north of Seattle really want to be “running the highway gauntlet” getting to and from SeaTac for both business and personal airline travel?

    • Hello MontanaOsprey,

      Regarding: “do the residents in the towns north of Seattle really want to be “running the highway gauntlet” getting to and from SeaTac for both business and personal airline travel?”

      The Puget Sound Business journal article at the link below quotes Alaska CEO Brad Tilden as saying that Alaska’s survey’s indicate that about a quarter of their passengers might prefer flights from Paine field to flights from SeaTac.

      “Almost a quarter of Alaska Airlines customers have told the airline they would prefer departures from Paine Field in Everett over Sea-Tac Airport.

      “This (new service at Paine) will be an enormous benefit for our customers that live in the northern part of the city and Snohomish County area,” Tilden said.

      Tilden said 22 to 23 percent of Alaska customers have told the airline they might prefer the Paine Field option over fighting traffic to Sea-Tac Airport for a flight.”

      I know that when I lived about 80 miles north of SeaTac and drove by Paine field on my way to SeaTac, just before getting into the god-awful downtown Seattle traffic, I would have never continued past Paine Field to SeaTac if there was a flight or connection to where I was going out of Paine Field at a time that fit my schedule. I would even had paid extra to avoid the downtown Seattle traffic at rush hour.


      • Based on how I felt when I lived north of Seattle, and how extraordinarily rapidly airlines signed up to fill Paine Field’s two gates to capacity – one flight per hour from each of two gates for twelve hours = 24 flights, I will predict that flights out of Paine field will be jam-packed from day one with the lucky few who were able to avoid having to drive through the traffic mess of downtown Seattle.

    • From personal experience, Seattle traffic is diabolical, so much so that the city is now considering congestion pricing. Geography is such that all north-south traffic has to go through I-5 or I-405, and they gum up pretty badly.

      There’s another issue — Seatac’s own access roads are so overwhelmed that fairly regularly, traffic backs up to the point you can’t reach the terminal (so you’ll need to go to the arrivals level if you need to depart, for instance, or wait in line in your car until traffic clears).

      Seatac passenger traffic basically increased 50% in the course of 10 years, which is hard for any US airport to accommodate. It’s a combination of Amazon supercharging city growth along with Delta’s entry into Seatac sparking a fare war.

      And waiting for an Uber or Lyft can be quite an ordeal. The smart move (if you want an Uber or Lyft) is to walk out to the light rail station, take the elevator down to the street, and get an Uber/Lyft there (you are now outside the Seatac precinct and their rules no longer apply). It’s a lot faster and it’s not that much further walk.

      That may also be the smart move (in reverse) if you’re going to the airport when the access roads back up.

      • While I agree for me PAE is the better choice, Bus Service is good in and out of SEA.

        Been in and out of there on my own starting in the 70s and always did just fine.

        Only issue I had was downtown waiting at the wrong bus stop (some kind citizen was nice enough to explain to me while the sign said the service was there it was actually across the street.)

        • Even though PAE is more convenient for some travelers north of downtown, bus service to PAE is ATROCIOUS, as is parking (and sometimes traffic, too- if it is the Boeing Everett rush hour).

          In contrast, SEA has a Link Light Rail station right at the airport (although it is in the parking garage).

          For example, if you are at UW (Seattle campus) and want to fly to SFO, perhaps you would drive to- and fly out of- PAE if it was not during the Boeing rush. However, if you aren’t driving to an airport you would undoubtedly take the Link Light Rail from UW. The Link from UW-SeaTac is a 50-minute trip, while taking a series of buses between UW and PAE takes over an hour and a half!!

  4. I agree. And in terms of long term urban planning (20 to 40 years), it is easier for Boeing to move to another airfield, than to locate new 10,000′ runways anywhere in the Seattle metro area. With land use issues being what they are, things are pretty much locked in place. Paine has to become a major airport, renamed AttleRett. What other options are there?

    • Put a runway on Jetty Island in Everett and add a little fill to make it bigger? Or go farther north, Tulalip International?

  5. Make airports immune to local regulations. Boston’s Logan airport had to wait 20 years to add a 5000 foot commuter runway on its own property and other airports are being held hostage by local groups who moved near an existing airport and then complain.
    Politicians eager for votes get behind the relatively few loud protesters and make a photo op out of it.
    Air travel is what moves the country, trains have fallen out of favor except for a few short routes and who wants to be on a train going beyond 300 miles or so.
    If an airport wants to add or lengthen a runway, add parking or enlarge the terminal on its existing land, federal law should allow it to happen without any interference from city or state governments.
    Airports have always been a lightning rod for some who made the wrong choice in selecting a home. Look at Heathrow, for years trying to add another runway and it still has not happened. Protests and myriads of studies have yielded no results. Keep airports out of local control.
    The talked about 2nd airport for Atlanta never got off the ground due to local opposition and of course Delta.

    • Wait till that new runways flight path means regular overflights of your house or close family member. You wont be so dismissive

      • Airports don’t spring up over night, people know full well an airport is nearby and airports are always growing and to have a few bitter people interfere with the thousands who use the airport is grossly unfair.
        Do you inconvenience a relatively small number of people or thousands daily who use the airport? Move near a school and have the noise of the kids playing sports or band practice, move near a hospital and have sirens and speeding ambulances up and down the street, or near an interstate highway with trucks rumbling through all hours of the night, or near a large shopping center with heavy traffic. It all comes down to choices we make as to where we will live. I live near a railroad crossing where trains operate not only during the day time but also at night with the horns blowing at 1,2,3 and 4 in the morning.
        Again, move near an airport and what do people expect of their closeness to the airport? Noise is a byproduct of an airport but at least the 727’s, 707’s, Dc-8’s, DC-9’s and BAC1-11’s are gone and airliners of today are quieter and future models are even more quieter. Live with it and stop complaining or move.

        • The reality is those nearby an airport or any other piece of infrastructure are given more say than those who live a long way away. Thats the way it is.
          Your comparison to roads and railways doesnt make sense. Do cars and trains roar over your head ? A road is there , a new highway can appear without you knowing about till later.

          • Airports were usually there long before the houses came in.

            If someone wants to buy a house on a runway path that is a personal choice.

            We live on an alternate path as well as a military base at times primary path.

            We are fine with it. At some point NIMBY kills a community.

            Vastly better economically to be in a well served community airport wise than not.

          • Sorry, having a few disgruntled residents affect the nearby airport that serves many from the local area is misguided thinking. Any large project that is proposed is always contested by a few who feel its their right to get their own way in spite of the good it will accomplish for the greater majority. Now if a new airport was to be constructed in a populated area, that’s another story but over the years I have seen airports stymied on projects within their own boarders.
            Airports are important facilities that move millions of people and as such, they should be free of local laws. You buy a home near an existing airport and you knew full well it was there, then buyers remorse. No sympathy from me.

          • It is easy to blame those who bought near and airport for complaining about noise. But they are only acting in their interest, chastising them is pointless.

            It is the urban planners who deserver the blame. They were hired to make the right decisions which in this case meant keeping housing out of flight paths. Leave the land for shopping and light industrial use. Instead they cave to developers looking for cheap land and the end result is needless conflict and a hobbling of an important infrastructure.

            Same story up here in Vancouver.

    • I always thought a reasonable compromise might be for the airport to subsidise enhanced soundproofing for homes in the affected area. Double glazed windows make a huge difference.

      Start at 100% subsidy on an expanding cone at the end of the new runway and slowly decrease to zero. Yes it would be costly, but if the runway is really needed…

      Might even turn some of the NIMBYs to arguing *for* the project!

    • “who wants to be on a train going beyond 300 miles or so”
      I know this is an aviation site, and I love flying. But I would be very, very happy to be on a train for up to 4 hours of train travel, if it gets me a decent distance.
      If we had even halfway decent HSR, that’d get me from MSP to Chicago or Kansas City. And in Texas, the major triangle (Dallas–Houston–San Antonio (via Austin)) could be a very successful venture that would open gate and runway capacity for other flight services and/or reduce airport noise impacts.
      That we haven’t invested in HSR isn’t entirely about consumer preference. Forces have favored airline and airport infrastructure for generations.
      We won’t get to European train speeds any time soon, but only for lack of trying! Travel under 500 air miles, with the advance checkin times, distance from airports to city centers, etc, can be viable. But we’re a strange country when it comes to things like this. I guess it doesn’t seem sexy?

  6. Well, I’ve had a chance to check on SeaTac’s capacity. There’s limited direct information, but the situation is not good. There’s been rapid growth in passenger utilization, particularly since 2011. It’s handling over 47MM per year. It’s now the ninth busiest airport in the U.S. The three built runways are “it”; there’s no room for a fourth. There are some tweaks possible involving taxiways and “hold” areas. A new International Terminal expansion is currently NOT going well. Costs have rocketed up from about $680MM to $820MM in a couple of years; completion has slipped till at least January, 2020. The bulk of these increases are not accounted for very well by the contractor (Clark Construction) or the owner (Port of Seattle). This is where things stand now. A whole new north terminal/concourse will have to be added relatively soon. (Two to three years? No stated cost is given; I’m guessing $2.5 to $3.0 Billion, based on the International Arrivals expansion, and the scope of work to expand to add the north terminal—that involves relocating existing a/c maintenance facilities.) There’s no real discussion about any significant road expansion near the airport. Seems like the expansion at Paine was needed—yesterday. Moving on to Paine Field—it’s ridiculous! A little two gate terminal, hemmed in between the control tower and some existing facilities is being built. (It looks like a glorified fbo!) There looks to be zero room for expansion. What were they thinking?

  7. What were they thinking ? Thats easy , they havent been keeping their thoughts to themselves.
    The Citys of Edmonds and Mukilteo seem to mostly opposed to increase traffic, noise and the killer ‘depressed property prices’

    As for existing flights:
    “And a 2012 environmental assessment by the FAA concluded that with Paine Field already handling about 300 general aviation takeoffs and landings each day, adding two dozen additional commercial passenger jet flights would have “no significant impacts” on the surrounding community.”

    300 per day !. You can see here why another 100 per day was a non starter

    • Interesting. Where would you propose to put a second commercial airport for SEA? Skagit?

      • My proposal would be to make the carriers use higher capacity rather than flood the airport with frequency. Once that was the case, DC10s and L-1011s were used for domestic routes, now its rare a widebody runs a US domestic sector, and then maybe its just a positioning flight.

        • I always wondered why they don’t use wide bodies every two hours instead of narrows on the busy corridors. Maybe with more A321s sold and B737-8 coming online over the older -700s, things will improve. Also, more people per plane…

      • Hello Montana Osprey,

        Regarding: Where would you propose to put a second commercial airport for SEA?

        How about Boeing Field 5 miles south of downtown, where the longest runway is 10.007 feet long, where Southwest and Alaska airlines were denied permission to fly in 2005 by the NIMBY politicians elected by the NIMBY voters, out of which Boeing does 737 test flights and UPS flies 757’s and 767’s that somehow don’t cause the horrible environmental damages that passenger flights would, which was used by Boeing in the past for B-47, B-52, and initial 737 production, and out of which West Coast Airlines operated regional F-27 and Dc-9 flights in the 1960’s when local government was more interested in promoting business and development and less interested in making sure every neighborhood group, excluding the business community, got everything they wanted. No wonder Amazon is looking for a second headquarters site outside of the People’s Republic of Seattle and Boeing is gradually shifting operations out of the area.

        How about Renton airport 12 miles southeast of downtown Seattle, where Boeing manufactures 737’s? The longest runway there is 5,382 feet long, not much different than the length of the longest runway at Hollywood/Burbank airport in Southern California which is 5,701 feet long and which has pretty extensive regional and national air service.

        Skagit is too far north from the major population centers around Seattle.

        The airport system in the greater Los Angeles area in California offers a stark contrast to the Seattle airport mess. In addition to the major international hub at LAX, there is also excellent regional and national commercial service from Burbank (longest runway 6,886 feet, former Lockheed Constellation factory), Orange County (longest runway 5,701 feet, Disneyland!), Long Beach (longest runway 10,000 feet, former Douglas DC-8 and Dc-9 factory), and Ontario (longest runway 12,197 feet and whose development was promoted rather than fought by local government!). A world class airport system worthy of a major metropolitan area, rather than an airport system of a second tier metropolitan area whose dysfunctional and often anti-business politics prevent it from advancing to anything better.

        The freeways are equally bad in LA as they are in Seattle, but at least you don’t have to drive, ride a bus, unicycle, or take whatever mode of ground transportation you select, through congested downtown LA to enter the air travel system if you live far away from downtown LA.

        • @AP_Robert some of the information you have is just simply inaccurate.

          It was Alaska that blocked Southwest from using Boeing field and stired us the NIMBYs to create opposition. Regardless, Boeing Field is in the flight path of Seatac. While it would have added capacity, flights still have to be coordinated. Not truly a reliever airport.

          I’m not sure your example of the LA airport is really a “stark contrast”. Burbank and Orange County both have flight caps that restrict use due to NIMYs. Both airports would likely have significantly more flights if they weren’t capped. While Ontario is a great airport, its suffers from a lack of use. Many airlines tried to use it as an alternative to LAX but it never worked for them. That’s why today it’s mainly a Southwest airport.

          • Boeing Field’s proximity to SeaTac meant that it was still in the same flight traffic and auto traffic to use it. I thought it was a gimmick by Southwest for their benefit that didn’t solve the regional problem.
            But as for the idea of Renton, looks like the typical landing flight path from the north is offset from SeaTac, although over Mercer Island, which might meet some resistance…

          • Hello Dave,

            Regarding: “I’m not sure your example of the LA airport is really a “stark contrast”.”

            Below is numerical data for the annual number of passengers served by Los Angeles area airports for varying 12 month periods ending in either 2016 or 2017, according to the pages for each airport on Wikipedia. Use whatever English language words you wish to describe the data; however, to me, having 19% of passengers going through secondary airports in greater LA, vs. 0% in Seattle, is a stark contrast.

            LAX: 84,557,968
            SNA: 10,423,578
            ONT: 4,217,366
            LGB: 2,852,294
            BUR: 2,282,000
            TOTAL: 104,333,206

            Last place Burbank’s 2.282.000 passengers per year corresponds to 6,252 passengers per day, or 41 flights at 150 passengers per flight.

            Here are percentage shares.

            LAX: 81%
            SNA: 10%
            ONT: 4%
            LGB: 3%
            BUR: 2%

            When I lived in Loma Linda, 24 miles from ONT and 77 miles from LAX, I was always able to fly from Ontario to anywhere I wanted in California non-stop on Southwest, or to anywhere I wanted in the US with one hub connection on a US major.

            Below is the current list of airlines and destinations for Ontario according to the Wikipedia page for Ontario Airport. To me, this a very good selection of regional and hub flights, which pretty much eliminates any need to drive 50 miles past ONT to LAX for anyone who doesn’t enjoy passing their time by driving on freeways. As usual at smaller airports. the majors fly primarily to their hubs, while Southwest flies non-stop to a wider variety of likely destinations. Southwest gets you more places non-stop, but the major’s hub system can get you to many more places with one connection than Southwest can with one-connection. In my opinion, which system is better depends on where you are going.

            Alaska Airlines: Portland (OR), Seattle/Tacoma
            American Airlines: Dallas/Fort Worth, Phoenix–Sky Harbor
            American Eagle: Phoenix–Sky Harbor
            China Airlines: Taipei–Taoyuan
            Delta Air Lines: Salt Lake City
            Delta Connection: Salt Lake City
            Frontier Airlines: Austin, Denver, San Antonio
            Southwest Airlines: Chicago–Midway, Dallas–Love, Denver, Las Vegas, Oakland, Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Portland (OR), Sacramento, San José (CA)
            United Airlines: Denver, San Francisco
            United Express: San Francisco
            Volaris Guadalajara

            Below is passenger share by airline for ONT for December 2016 to November 2017 according to Wikipedia. Southwest had 58.4% of passengers, based on which I would describe Southwest as the largest carrier at Ontario, but stop short of saying, as you did, that ONT is “mainly a Southwest Airport”. At this stage of their existence, the US majors know better than to try to compete head to head with Southwest on routes where it is operating high frequency short haul service. RIP Ted, Shuttle by United and Song.

            1 Southwest Airlines 2,524,000 = 58.40%
            2 American Airlines 765,000 = 17.70%
            3 SkyWest Airlines 423,000 = 9.78%
            4 Alaska Airlines 248,000 = 5.75%
            5 United Airlines 159,000 = 3.68%

            ONT also has extensive cargo operations. Less congested freeways and lower real estate costs for warehouses around ONT relative to LAX make it a much better place to be sending cargo, especially time sensitive cargo, to or from than LAX.

            Amazon Air: Allentown, Baltimore, Charlotte, Chicago/Rockford, Cincinnati, Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston–Intercontinental, Providence, Stockton
            Ameriflight: Bakersfield, Blythe, Burbank, Fresno, Imperial, Lancaster, Oxnard, Palm Springs, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Tijuana, Visalia
            FedEx Express: Fort Worth/Alliance, Honolulu, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Memphis, Oakland, Portland (OR), Reno/Tahoe, Salt Lake City, San Diego, Seattle/Tacoma
            FedEx Feeder: Bakersfield, Bishop, Imperial, Inyokern, Palmdale, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Maria
            Kalitta Air: Seasonal: Philadelphia
            UPS Airlines Albuquerque, Anchorage, Billings, Boise, Chicago/Rockford, Columbia (SC), Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, Des Moines, Fresno, Hartford, Hong Kong, Honolulu, Kailua–Kona, Las Vegas, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Louisville, Newark, Oakland, Orange County, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Portland (OR), Reno/Tahoe, Sacramento–Mather, Salt Lake City, San Diego, San Jose (CA), Seattle–Boeing, Spokane, Tokyo–Narita, Tulsa
            Seasonal: Minneapolis/St. Paul

          • Hello Dave,

            Regarding: “Burbank and Orange County both have flight caps that restrict use due to NIMYs”

            True, nevertheless, both actually have had commercial passenger service for many decades, and flight capped Orange County manages a passenger volume of 10,423,578 per year on one runway barely suitable for airliner use (length 5,701 feet), which is about 22% of the annual passenger volume of 46,934,194 that SeaTac, which claims to be the main airport of a major city, struggles to handle with three runways of length 8,500 to 11,901 feet.

            Annual passenger numbers are per the Wikipedia page for each airport.

  8. I wish Southwest would think outside of the box and try Bellingham. I think they could build a market for about two flights a day to Oakland, Las Vegas, Denver, Chicago, and points beyond. This is assuming you can get everyone from Everett north and some Canadians. Living in Mt. Vernon, I’d pay about $30 or $40 more per ticket to fly out of Bellingham instead of Seattle. $100? No.

  9. Strange to see this level of nimbyism against a new airport from a community that is so dependent on the business of building airliners.

    • Not really strange at all Kevin when you consider that many residents moved to the potentially affected areas years ago specifically because these communities were known to be quiet, with very limited high density development and relatively low car traffic. In the 1970’s developing communities of Everett, Lynnwood, Edmonds and Mukilteo were assured by the “Mitigated Role Determination” of Snohomish county that Paine field would have restricted usages. It would seem Snohomish county has decided to renege in pursuit of the dollar. It has little or nothing to to with Boeing building planes or the people that build them. Commercial airport traffic will change the quality of life in the flight corridor with no economic benefit to the many, many thousands of residents affected directly by overflights and increased road traffic. It will solely benefit the operators of the airport, the airlines, the frequent flyers, maybe a few local businesses and expand the county bureaucracy which of course the politicians will love.

  10. In the 1930’s and 1960’s Everett area politicians sought rather than fought development at Paine Field. See the excerpt below from the Seattle Business Magazine article at the link after the excerpt.

    “When Paine Field was built in 1936, nearly a decade before Seattle-Tacoma International Airport was completed, the 604-acre, fog-free unpopulated site 23 miles north of Seattle was envisioned as being one of 10 commercial “super airports” around the country. Originally called Snohomish County Airport — its name was changed to Paine Field in 1941 — the airport was a Works Progress Administration project designed as part of the New Deal to create jobs, drive economic growth in the Pacific Northwest and support a nascent aviation sector.

    Shortly after opening, the airport was diverted for military operations during World War II, and again later for the Korean War. Snohomish County took over full management of the site and opened it for new commercial development in the mid-1960s, leading Boeing to establish a production facility for the 747 jetliner in 1966. By then, Sea-Tac had emerged as the region’s primary airport.”


    • “fog-free” I imagine some geographical locations are better than others.. Up on the high ground and near Puget Sound like SeaTac and Paine, may get better weather than the airports in the low valleys like Boeing Field or Arlington.

      • Weather is consistently better up BHam way. Rain shield of Vancouver Island.

        Wans’t the first 787 flight affects by fog?

        • @TW: 787 first flight was in December (the 11th?) and it was a rainy day at Everett and rain was forecast throughout Puget Sound. The airplane went over the Strait of Juan de Fuca for its flight. It was cut short because weather was getting worse at Boeing Field, where the flight was to end. I did commentary that day for KIRO TV

  11. Scott, I would think you would have a thought or two on what’s going on at, and the future of Sea-Tac, and where, if anywhere, a second, major SEA area reliever airport might be located. Future articles, perhaps?

    • Mosses Lake or Bham and high speed rail?

      The road approaches (and departure!) to SEATAC have always been awful that is for sure..

    • @Montery: Paine Field needs to be the second airport in the near-term. Maybe some day in the loooong future, McChord AFB a third airport, as growth is occurring to the south, but this would be a generation or more away and McChord would have to be BRACed.

      • Thanks for this, Scott. One more question (a two parter), if I may. Would you agree Sea-Tac will hit its capacity limits in ten years (2028) or less? If that’s the case, do you foresee a new (relocated) larger terminal at PAE?

  12. It wasn’t that politicians denied Southwest its application to use BFI; SEA-TAC lowered its fees and WN withdrew its application. There was speculation at the time that WN applied for BFI as a tactic to get SEA-TAC (actually the Port of Seattle, which owns/operates the airport) to lower fees. WN had not been successful in negotiating it before the BFI application.

    Alaska indeed opposed the WN application and filed one of its own, for the same space. WN had applied for eight gates, building its own terminal. By applying for the same number of gates and location, AS mucked up the works.

    But it was SEA-TAC lowering fees that caused WN to withdraw.

  13. I would love to see a direct flight from Salt Lake City to Paine Field. There are no real low cost options from Salt Lake City into western Washington. I’m hoping one of the airlines will recognize there is a market for the flight.

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