EVERETT — Alaska Airlines this fall will double the number of flights it operates from the two-gate passenger terminal at Paine Field.
Alaska currently operates six daily flights to six destinations — San Diego, Los Angeles, Orange County, Palm Springs, Las Vegas and Phoenix — from the Snohomish County-owned airport.
By October, the Seattle-based carrier expects to operate 12 daily flights and serve eight destinations. The new schedule will include two daily departures each to Boise and Spokane that begin Sept. 8.
“It is very good news and we look forward to having a more robust schedule,” said Brett Smith, CEO of Propeller Airports, the privately held company that built and operates the terminal. “It’s been a long and painful year.”
On Wednesday afternoon, the terminal was bustling with mask-wearing travelers waiting for flights to Las Vegas and Palm Springs. Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, on the secure side of the terminal, was open and serving those in need of a bite to eat.
“Passenger volumes are up and planes are going out full,” Smith said, surveying the crowd.
Also full were the vases scattered throughout the main lounge.
“The flowers are back,” Smith said of the signature perk that was discontinued when the COVID-19 pandemic knocked out air travel here and everywhere.
“Most of this is leisure travel, but we’re hopeful that business travel will begin to return this fall,” Smith said.
In the first year of the terminal’s operation, more than one million passengers were served and there were 24 daily round-trip flights on the schedule. Business travel accounted for about 70% of traffic, Smith said.
Before Alaska picks up the pace, it will drop the number of daily departures to five in June, when it temporarily suspends service to Palm Springs, a seasonal destination, airline spokesman Ray Lane said in an email. Daily service to Palm Springs will resume in October.
Also in June, Alaska will eliminate daily service to Los Angeles — due to lack of demand — and replace it with a daily flight to San Francisco, Lane said.
United Airlines, which shares the terminal with Alaska Airlines, currently flies from Paine Field to its Denver hub. The company said in a statement that it “will continue to monitor demand and adjust our schedule as needed to meet that demand.”
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the two carriers offered 24 daily round trips from the terminal.
Here’s what Alaska’s fall schedule will look like with a dozen daily departures to eight airports:
• Two daily flights each to Boise, Spokane, Las Vegas and Phoenix.
• Once-daily service to San Diego, Orange County and San Francisco.
• A daily flight to Palm Springs that will resume in October.
Alaska said it expects domestic travel to return to pre-COVID levels by summer 2022, according to a company statement.
While United Airlines was not specific about plans for Everett, it also is beefing up its schedule this summer and expects to operate a domestic flight schedule that’s 67% of normal capacity.
The federal Transportation Security Administration continues to see passenger counts tick upward.
Daily passenger totals at security checkpoints are averaging about 1.5 million, up from about 200,000 a year ago. Recently some daily totals are approaching 2 million, getting closer to the 2.5 million daily average in 2019.
Janice Podsada; firstname.lastname@example.org; 425-339-3097; Twitter: JanicePods