So, it’s official: passenger service is coming to Paine Field

I came across this at the Seattle Times: “Alaska Airlines will start passenger flights from Everett’s Paine Field

This has been hinted at for years, and then boldly stated (“Paine Field wins FAA’s approval for commercial airline flights” from 2012 and “Snohomish County OKs plan for commercial passenger terminal at Paine Field” more recently, in 2015)…at least that this was a plan. But, aside from Mukilteo’s battles, we seem to be moving this way. It’s definitely happening, and there’s a timeline: flights starting fall of 2018. The likelihood that this will be stopped is quite small (though Mukilteo hasn’t fully given up the fight yet), though I’m hardly an attorney. Delayed: sure. Stopped: hard to picture that happening.

Anyway, I see this as a mixed thing. I’d much rather travel out of Paine Field than driving down to Seatac. I’ve sworn on a few occasions that the next time I fly, I’ll travel out of Bellingham. But I haven’t yet. So, convenience is nice. And bringing in air service opens up events and conventions to the county, through Everett and Lynnwood. It also opens up the south Snohomish County region to businesses that depend on access to airports. At least a little.

I expect that service will start small and light, slowly expanding their operations. I believe the negotiations that have established a 22 flight max and the near normal business hours as sincere, but there will be pressure to increase capacity…and probably as soon as flights start. Especially since Seatac seems to be pretty near capacity and demand is still increasing.

This will bring more traffic to the area. And then there’s the aircraft noise. I’m glad Mukilteo is working with the entities at play to mitigate as much as we can. However, it will come. It will come. I’m also glad that we’re looking at significant infrastructure upgrades to the area (check out the Harbour Reach Corridor Project, for one).

It is interesting that this is just two weeks after a plane crash in the neighborhood. From a PR perspective, it’s a good thing this media cycle played out as it did. Well, for the proponents of this it is.

I’ve always tried to focus on the practical, the effective. It looks like we need to adapt to the new reality. As I see Snohomish County growing more urbanized over the next few years. This is the reality I’m referring to. My little piece of suburbia is moving away from a semi-rural feel to a far more urban structure. And this will fuel it.