From left, Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers, Rep. Rick Larsen, Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin and Brett Smith, Propeller Airport’s CEO, attend the takeoff of the first flight in 10 weeks Saturday afternoon from Paine Field in Everett. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

From left, Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers, Rep. Rick Larsen, Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin and Brett Smith, Propeller Airport’s CEO, attend the takeoff of the first flight in 10 weeks Saturday afternoon from Paine Field in Everett. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Lawmakers welcome return of passenger service at Paine Field

Everett’s airline terminal fills with passengers on Saturday; elected officials pledge their support.

EVERETT — The Everett passenger terminal reopened Saturday and commercial airline flights returned to Paine Field after a 10 -week shutdown for ramp repairs.

Passengers, wearing masks and keeping their distance, filled the two-gate terminal once again.

“It’s the greatest thing ever, I don’t have to go through Sea-Tac Airport,” said Teresa Anderson who flew from Denver on United Airlines to visit family in Lake Stevens.

U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, also a passenger on the Denver flight, the day’s first arrival, had started his day in Washington D.C. On Saturday afternoon, he stepped off the plane to join Brett Smith, CEO of Propeller Airports, Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers and Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin in marking the event.

“Welcome to the second inaugural — in a year and a half,” Smith joked. “We’re excited to be back.”

At a gathering on the taxiway, elected officials pledged their support for Propeller and the terminal.

“It’s a critical part of our future,” Somers said.

Denver-bound passengers board the first flight in 10 weeks departing Paine Field on Saturday afternoon in Everett. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Denver-bound passengers board the first flight in 10 weeks departing Paine Field on Saturday afternoon in Everett. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

The private company built and operates the passenger terminal under a lease agreement with Snohomish County, the airport’s owner.

Said Franklin, “It’s an important asset for Everett. We appreciate Propeller’s investment in our community.”

During its first year of operation the terminal served more than a million travelers, or about 3,000 travelers a day.

But those numbers plummeted when the COVID-19 pandemic ensued. With air travel curtailed, the terminal closed in May for ramp repairs, a 10-week, $1.5 million project paid for by Propeller.

Smith said that Propeller’s investors are prepared to support the terminal for as long as it takes.

Larsen, Chair of the House Aviation Committee, co-sponsored the Moving Forward Act, which passed the House last month. The proposed legislation provides additional funding for airports weathering the COVID-19 pandemic. “We’re optimistic this will help out Paine Field,” Larsen said.

It uses a funding formula that’s based on 2019 passenger counts, Larsen said.

Paine Field lost out on millions of dollars in CARES Act funds because individual airport grants were based how many passengers they served in 2018. That left Paine Field out in the cold, since airline service at the county-owned airport didn’t begin until March 2019.

Larsen introduced legislation last week to limit the spread of COVID-19 through air travel and ensure the safety of workers and passengers. The Healthy Flights Act would give the Federal Aviation Administration and the airlines the authority to require that passengers and airline employees wear masks.

For now, the Everett terminal will offer just three flights a day, but Larsen expressed optimism that air travel will revive.

“It’s three flights today, but it’s going to be four, five,” Larsen said. “It’s going to be a slow comeback, but I have no doubt it will come back.”

United Airlines will operate one daily flight from Paine Field to its Denver hub. Alaska Airlines plans two flights a day — one each to Las Vegas and Phoenix.

Before the pandemic, United and Alaska, which share the terminal, served 11 destinations with 24 departures and 24 arrivals per day.

The terminal reopened Saturday with new rules. Only ticketed passengers can enter the building and everyone must wear a mask. Before passengers enter security screening, their temperature will be checked by a touchless, heat-sensing camera.

“We’re keeping the place clean, we’ve got hand sanitizer everywhere, we check people’s temperatures,” said Smith. “We’re confident we can offer a safe experience that makes people comfortable.”

When asked how he felt watching the first passenger plane in 10 weeks take off Saturday, Smith replied, “It was fine. Now, I want to see one take off every hour.”

Janice Podsada;; 425-339-3097; Twitter: JanicePods

Talk to us

More in Herald Business Journal

Striking Starbucks employees talk to a woman who wanted to use the drive-thru but was turned away due to the strike on Wednesday, June 15, 2022, on Broadway in Everett, Washington. Workers at the 37th and Broadway store spent their morning picketing because a fellow employee had been fired the previous day in what the workers believe is an act of union busting. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Everett Starbucks workers go on strike after employee fired

The employee and her fellow union members claim she was fired for supporting the union. Starbucks denies it.

Property values soar 32% in Snohomish County due to hot housing market

Assessed values are up all across the county since last year. The impact on tax bills won’t be known for a few months.

Port of Everett hosting annual open house after pandemic hiatus

Also, Rustic Cork Wine Bar plans to open a second shop at Fisherman’s Harbor — the latest addition to the port’s “wine walk.”

Holly Burkett-Pohland, the owner of Burkett’s Home & Gift, outside of her new store front on Friday, June 17, 2022 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
New Everett gift store debuts in former J. Matheson space

For years, Holly Burkett-Pohland wanted to expand a business founded by her mother in 1978.

A Kenmore Air Cessna 208 Caravan. (Kenmore Air) 20220613
Kenmore Air to start daily flights from Paine Field to San Juans

Service begins July 14. Flights to Friday Harbor and Orcas Island airports take about 25 minutes.

Seattle Space Needle sues coffee chain over use of logo

The logo for Local Coffee Spot features a mug of hot coffee whose rising steam bears striking resemblance to the iconic tower.

Logo for news use, for stories regarding Washington state government — Olympia, the Legislature and state agencies. No caption necessary. 20220331
Foes of state’s capital gains tax drop plans for initiative

I-1929 sponsors say they are confident a lawsuit challenging the legality of the tax will be successful.

Smoother sailing: Arlington airport gets grant to fix runway

A $2.3 million federal grant will pave the way for a project to resurface the airfield’s main runway.

Workers build the first all electric plane, the Eviation Alice, on Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021 in Arlington, Washington.  The plane is designed for regional travel and to carry nine passengers. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Eviation moves tests of electric passenger plane to Moses Lake

The Arlington company said a bigger runway and flatter terrain are better suited to early testing of the commuter aircraft.

An artist's rendering of the new Funko warehouse in Buckeye, Arizona. (Funko) 20220407
Funko warehouse layoffs begin this week in Everett, Puyallup

The layoffs, announced in April, are part of a plan to move distribution operations to Arizona.

Rendering of the front entrance of Spruce Elementary School in Lynnwood. (Edmonds School District)
Police: Edmonds schools sent $2.7 million check to fraudster

Police say the fraudster posed as a contractor for a new elementary school. A bank caught it at the last second.

Looking north, an aerial view of Paine Field in Everett. (Paine Field / Snohomish County) 20220605
Paine Field development plan envisions an expanded terminal

Once Sea-Tac Airport reaches capacity, the Everett airport is on the short list to absorb unmet demand by passengers.