An Alaska Airlines plane takes off from Paine Field on Wednesday in Everett. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)                                An Alaska Airlines plane takes off from Paine Field on Wednesday in Everett. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

An Alaska Airlines plane takes off from Paine Field on Wednesday in Everett. (Andy Bronson / The Herald) An Alaska Airlines plane takes off from Paine Field on Wednesday in Everett. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Alaska CEO: ‘We really need to look at growing Paine Field’

At a conference, Brad Tilden speculated about expanded passenger service, but flights are capped — for now.

EVERETT — The CEO of Alaska Airlines would like to see Paine Field’s new two-gate passenger terminal expanded to five or six gates.

But CEO Brad Tilden’s wish is just that — a wish.

Both the terminal’s operator and the airport say there aren’t any plans to increase air service capacity, which is capped by the federal government at 24 daily departures and 24 arrivals.

“We haven’t been approached by anyone regarding expansion and it would be premature to discuss it,” said Scott North, spokesman for the Snohomish County-owned airport.

Seattle-based Alaska Airlines offers 18 daily departures from the Paine Field passenger terminal, which is operated by privately held Propeller Airports. United Airlines offers six daily departures.

Tilden made the remark last week at a Puget Sound Business Journal event focusing on the region’s long-range infrastructure needs. The Business Journal characterized the gathering as a “free, flowing, unscripted conversation about growth in the Seattle area.”

“It’s quite good,” Tilden is quoted as saying, referring to Alaska’s success at Paine Field. “It’s like a private jet facility, and it’s doing very well. I think we really need to look at growing Paine Field from two gates to — I don’t know what the next jump is — five or six gates.”

In this 2016 photo, Alaska Airlines CEO Brad Tilden talks to reporters at the airline’s corporate headquarters in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

In this 2016 photo, Alaska Airlines CEO Brad Tilden talks to reporters at the airline’s corporate headquarters in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

Alaska Airlines spokesman Ray Lane stressed that the CEO’s remarks were “the sharing of some ideas during a question-and-answer” session.

“His emphasis is one that’s central to Sea-Tac,” Lane said in an email, referring to Sea-Tac Airport south of Seattle — namely, “growth and capacity at our main hub, and how can congestion be alleviated, possibly by using other airports.”

“If any specific plans are put into motion, we would follow the required processes,” Lane said.

Passenger service at Paine is capped by the Federal Aviation Administration. A proposal to increase the number of passenger flights would trigger a review by federal regulators and, if the most recent environmental assessment process is an indicator, renewed community controversy over airport use.

Propeller Airports built and operates the passenger terminal under a lease agreement with the airport owner, Snohomish County. Since it opened March 4, the terminal has served more than 600,000 passengers.

Brett Smith, CEO of Propeller Airports, thanked Alaska’s CEO for his show of support: “We appreciate Mr. Tilden’s continued confidence in Paine Field and agree that commercial service here has been tremendously successful. We currently have no plans to expand capacity at the airport and are keeping our focus on providing our best-in-class experience for existing customers.”

Tilden’s remarks were the second time in less than three months that Alaska Airlines has publicly praised the new passenger operation.

Over the summer, Andrew Harrison, an Alaska Airlines executive vice president and the chief commercial officer, said the company was “impressed and excited” with how service at Paine Field has gone.

Demand for service “has been very very good,” said Harrison, who made the remarks during a second-quarter earnings teleconference on July 25.

Alaska Airlines is scheduled to report third-quarter earnings on Oct. 24.

Last week’s “unscripted” discussion also saw Tilden “float(ing) the idea of a military-commercial airport at Joint Base Lewis-McChord” south of Tacoma, the Puget Sound Business Journal reported.

Tilden’s idea isn’t so far-fetched if you look at a map of the region and available land — which is exactly what state lawmakers are doing.

The Legislature authorized the formation of an airport-siting committee this year to identify six possible locations for a second Sea-Tac-caliber airport. Shane Jones, an Alaska Airlines vice president for airport real estate and development, will serve as a member.

Studies say demand for airline service in the Puget Sound region is expected to double by 2050. To meet that goal, the airport-siting committee is also responsible for developing a timeline to ensure a facility is functional by 2040. Population and economic growth are key drivers. The number of people in the Puget Sound region is forecast to increase 40% over the next 30 years, according to an ongoing Regional Aviation Baseline Study.

By 2050, the metropolitan population, which now stands at about 4.1 million, is expected to reach 5.8 million, the study estimates.

Janice Podsada; jpodsada@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3097; Twitter: JanicePods.

Talk to us

More in Herald Business Journal

Funko mascots Freddy Funko roll past on a conveyor belt in the Pop! Factory of the company's new flagship store on Aug. 18, 2017.  (Dan Bates / The Herald)
Despite Arizona move, Everett leaders expect Funko HQ to stay

The toymaker is closing Everett warehouses. But a recent “HQ2” expansion has the city confident Funko will remain rooted here.

An Alaska Airlines Embraer 175 airplane bound for Portland, Ore., takes off Monday, March 4, 2019, at Paine Field in Everett, Wash. The flight was the first flight on the inaugural day for commercial passenger flights from the airport. Alaska Airlines began scheduled flights Monday, and United Airlines will begin commercial flights on March 31, 2019. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
5G-related airline cancellations arrive at Paine Field

One type of plane serving Everett is subject to restrictions due to feared cellular phone interference with navigation.

FILE - Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson talks to reporters, Monday, Aug. 26, 2019, during a news conference in Seattle. In a 5-4 decision Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022, the Washington Supreme Court upheld an $18 million campaign finance penalty against the Consumer Brands Association, formerly known as the Grocery Manufacturers Association. Ferguson sued the group in 2013, alleging that it spent $11 million to oppose a ballot initiative without registering as a political committee or disclosing the source of the money. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Washington justices uphold $18M fine in GMO-labeling case

Big grocers funneled dark money into a campaign against genetically modified labels on food packaging.

In this photo taken May 17, 2017, wine barrels are shown at a vineyard adjacent to the Walla Walla Vintners winery in Walla Walla, Wash. The remote southeastern Washington town of Walla Walla - which used to be best known for sweet onions and as home of the state penitentiary - has now reinvented itself into a center of premium wines and wine tourism. (AP Photo/Nicholas K. Geranios)
More sustainable Washington wines are on the way

Labels will indicate grape growers met guidelines in 9 areas, including water, pest and labor practices.

Funko warehouse in Everett. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Funko to close Everett warehouses, shift work to Arizona

The company headquarters are currently in downtown Everett, but distribution will move to a Phoenix suburb.

FILE - In this Monday, March 1, 2021 file photo, The first Alaska Airlines passenger flight on a Boeing 737-9 Max airplane takes off on a flight to San Diego from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle. A Boeing pilot involved in testing the 737 Max jetliner was indicted Thursday, Oct. 14,2021 by a federal grand jury on charges of deceiving safety regulators who were evaluating the plane, which was later involved in two deadly crashes. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
Alaska Airlines to add Boeing 737s to the Paine Field fleet

It’s a sign of the growing popularity of flying from Everett. So far, much smaller Embraer E175s have been the rule.

A sign bearing the corporate logo hangs in the window of a Starbucks open only to take-away customers in this photograph taken Monday, April 26, 2021, in southeast Denver.  Starbucks is no longer requiring its U.S. workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19, reversing a policy it announced earlier this month. The Seattle coffee giant says, Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022,  it's responding to last week’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.  (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Starbucks nixes vaccine mandate after Supreme Court ruling

The move reverses a policy the coffee company announced earlier this month.

Mara Wiltshire, left, celebrates her first place finish in Mario Cart against her son Miles Jenkins, 7, as Calvin Jenkins, 5, looking on Friday evening at their home in Everett, Washington on January 7, 2022.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Child care’s heightened burden takes parents out of workforce

One Snohomish County mom said she couldn’t return to work “because I didn’t have child care and I wouldn’t be able to afford it.”

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Stanwood in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Regulators OK doubling of composting operation in Stanwood

Lenz Enterprises can now handle 150,000 tons a year. Residents worry odors will be a problem.

Christian Sayre
Everett bar owner arrested again on new sexual assault charges

Christian Sayre, longtime owner of The Anchor Pub, was charged Friday with 10 counts of felony sex offenses.

FILE - Bill Gates speaks during the Global Investment Summit at the Science Museum, London, Tuesday, Oct, 19, 2021. A small city in the top U.S. coal-mining state of Wyoming will be home to a Bill Gates-backed experimental nuclear power project near a coal-fired power plant that will soon close, officials announced Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021. (Leon Neal/Pool Photo via AP, File)
Microsoft to review workplace harassment, including Bill Gates allegations

One engineer wrote in a letter that she had a sexual relationship with Gates over several years.

Snohomish roofing company fined another $425K for safety violations

Allways Roofing has had at least seven serious injuries on its job sites, according to the state.