An Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 after it received a water salute Thursday at Paine Field in Everett. The plane, arriving from Phoenix, was the first regularly scheduled 737 to serve passengers at Paine Field. Alaska up to now has deployed smaller Embraer jets to Everett. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

An Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 after it received a water salute Thursday at Paine Field in Everett. The plane, arriving from Phoenix, was the first regularly scheduled 737 to serve passengers at Paine Field. Alaska up to now has deployed smaller Embraer jets to Everett. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Alaska launches Boeing 737 service at Paine Field in Everett

Until now, the airline has employed smaller Embraer jets. It’s a sign of greater demand for travel to Phoenix and Las Vegas.

EVERETT — Alaska Airlines marked the start of Boeing 737 service at Paine Field with a splash Thursday afternoon.

Arriving from Phoenix, Alaska flight 1497 was welcomed with a water salute, a traditional tribute in the aviation world. After the 737 landed, Paine Field airport firefighters directed a cascade of water at the aircraft, creating an arch over the jet.

Until now, Alaska has employed only smaller Embraer jets for service at Paine Field. On March 18, the carrier plans to switch to 737s for service to Las Vegas, too.

The move to a larger aircraft allows the airline to accommodate more passengers on each flight. After passengers disembarked Thursday’s flight, the plane was loaded again for a return to Phoenix.

Since launching commercial passenger service from the two-gate terminal in March 2019, Alaska has only operated Embraer E175 jets, which seat 76 passengers, at the Snohomish County-owned airport.

Alaska’s 737s can seat up to 178 passengers, more than twice the capacity of the Embraer jets. Thursday’s flight was a seven-year-old 737-900 model.

The Seattle-based airline currently serves nine destinations with 12 daily departures from the Paine Field terminal, which was built and is operated by privately owned Propeller Airports.

In March 2019, the first Alaska Airlines flight to land at Paine Field received a water salute after arriving from Portland.

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

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