Alaska Airlines announced this week it is reducing the number of daily departures to four a day from the Paine Field terminal. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Alaska Airlines announced this week it is reducing the number of daily departures to four a day from the Paine Field terminal. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Airlines cut Paine Field departures to a handful a day

Alaska Airlines is down to four daily Everett departures. United is flying once or twice.

EVERETT — Alaska Airlines is slashing service at Paine Field’s new terminal in a move to cut more than 70% of flights across its network.

Alaska said this week it is eliminating service to six of 10 destinations served from Everett, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic that has forced drastic reductions in airline service across the globe. The carrier will operate only four daily flights starting Friday.

“We’ll be serving four destinations from Paine Field as part of our reductions — Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Diego and San Jose,” Ray Lane, an Alaska Airlines spokesman, said in an email. “There will be one daily departure to each destination.”

Passenger service to the other six places — Portland, Spokane, Orange County, Palm Springs, San Francisco and Las Vegas — “will be available out of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport,” Lane said.

The new Everett schedule will be in effect through the month, “but expect further adjustments,” Lane said.

United Airlines’ Paine Field schedule also appears to have changed.

In recent days, United has operated one or two flights a day to Denver, according to Flightradar24, which monitors air traffic around the world. In recent weeks, Alaska has operated about 8 to 10 flights a day from Everett, down from a full capacity of 18 daily departures. The company could not be reached for comment.

Alaska and United, which share the terminal, are limited by federal regulators to 24 departures and 24 arrivals per day at Paine Field. Earlier this year, United Airlines eliminated flights to San Francisco.

Brett Smith, CEO of Propeller Airports, the private company that built and operates the two-gate terminal, said Friday that he supports “Alaska’s decision during these difficult times.”

“They have been a great partner and we look forward to that continuing,” Smith said in an email.

Meanwhile, McGee Air Services, an Alaska subsidiary that handles ground operations at Paine Field for the two carriers, has reduced staff from about 70 to 57, Jason Berry, McGee’s president, said in an email.

“We’re doing all we can to keep our team members working through this unprecedented event,” Berry said. “Unfortunately, the COVID-19 outbreak has impacted McGee, as well. We have been forced to reduce staffing levels and total hours as a result of the decreased activity.”

Beecher’s, which provides food and bar service inside the terminal, has temporarily closed those concessions.

Alaska Airlines also pared its schedule at Bellingham International Airport on Friday.

“We’re going from three daily nonstop flights between Bellingham and Sea-Tac — down to one daily departure,” Lane said. “That will be our only flight from Bellingham.”

Last month, Allegiant Airlines, which shares the Bellingham terminal with Alaska and San Juan Airlines, temporarily suspended all flights from Bellingham until June.

Amid the pandemic, demand has fallen 80% or more below normal levels, Alaska said in an online blog post.

“In recent days, some of our flights have had only several passengers on board,” Alaska reported.

The Seattle-based carrier normally averages 1,300 daily flights. It has cut its schedule by 73% and now operates about 350 daily flights, the company said.

United Airlines, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines also have cut domestic routes by about 70%.

Janice Podsada; jpodsada@heraldnet.com; 425-399-3097; Twitter: JanicePods.

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