County Council opposes commercial flights at Paine Field

Any proposed commercial airline flights at Paine Field will be fought vigorously, the Democratic majority on the Snohomish County Council said Wednesday.

Mukilteo residents who packed the council chambers applauded as the council voted 4-1 to formally oppose commercial airline flights.

The council said Paine Field should continue to be an aerospace hub and home to general aviation aircraft.

Republican County Councilman John Koster voted against the proposal and urged the council not vote based on emotions.

Allegiant Air last month proposed flying MD-80 jets from Paine Field to Las Vegas. In a letter, the airline expressed interest in offering two to four commercial flights.

“There is a big fight ahead for all of us,” said County Councilman Brian Sullivan, a longtime opponent of airline service at Paine Field. “This is the first test and there are many tests ahead.”

The Mukilteo-based Save Our Communities continues to oppose commercial flights from Paine Field.

On the other side, the Private Enterprise Coalition of Snohomish County, a business group, is pushing for passenger flights at Paine Field.

Federal law might pre-empt the county’s ability to deny access to the airport. At the same time, the county is not obligated to help, and officials have pledged to not spend money to help the airline.

The federal government has spent $52 million on the airport since 1945. That gives federal authorities leverage over how the airport is used.

On Wednesday, County Council members said they don’t want to do anything that would jeopardize federal grants that are needed to keep the airport runways and facilities operational and available for the Boeing Co.

Shortly after vowing to fight the airline, County Council members accepted a $3.1 million federal grant to replace a 60-year-old wooden fire station at Paine Field.

Reporter Jeff Switzer: 425-339-3452 or

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