EVERETT — After a 10-week pause, commercial airline travel from Paine Field will resume Aug. 1, but service will be limited due to the slowly receding travel slump.
There’s nowhere to go but up. Alaska Airlines and United Airlines, which share the Everett terminal, will serve just three destinations at first.
Alaska plans two flights a day, with one each to Las Vegas and Phoenix, company spokesman Ray Lane said in an email to The Daily Herald.
United Airlines will operate one daily flight from Paine Field to its Denver hub, according to a company news release.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, Alaska and United were flying at near the federal capacity of 24 departures and 24 arrivals per day.
“We’re going to be ready. We’re excited to come back,” said Brett Smith, CEO of Propeller Airports, which built and operates the terminal under a lease agreement with airport owner Snohomish County. The privately owned company is paying for repairs to the pavement on the aircraft side of the facility.
“The concrete looks great,” Smith said of repairs to the ramp area, where planes pull up to the two gates.
Propeller, with regulator approval, suspended operations May 22 to complete planned gate ramp repairs and maintenance. Service had already been curtailed due to the lack of travel during the coronavirus pandemic. Passenger counts decreased by 80% or more throughout the U.S. Carriers slashed their schedules and grounded thousands of planes.
The Everett passenger terminal opened in 2019 and served more than a million travelers by the time it celebrated its one-year anniversary in March. By May, the number of daily flights had fallen to less than three a day.
In the past month or so, travelers have begun a slow return to the skies.
Alaska Airlines expects to fill about half of its available seats in coming months, up from 15% in April and 40% in May, Reuters reported.
The Seattle-based carrier expects to operate at 40% to 50% of last year’s schedule, Reuters said.
United Airlines, which is currently flying about 30% of its normal domestic schedule, plans to bump that up to 48% in August, the company said.
“While travel demand remains a fraction of what it was at the end of 2019, customers are slowly returning to flying with a preference for leisure destinations,” said United, which plans to add 25,000 domestic and international flights to its schedule next month.
During the Fourth of July holiday weekend, the number of daily air travelers topped 700,000 per day, a new high since the start of the pandemic, according to the Transporation Security Administration.
On July 5, TSA screened 732,123 passengers compared to nearly 2.8 million passengers on the same day a year ago.
Janice Podsada; email@example.com; 425-339-3097; Twitter: JanicePods