EVERETT — With few travelers and few flights, the new passenger terminal at Paine Field will take a breather and close temporarily.
The terminal will suspend operations from May 22 to July 31 to complete gate ramp repairs and maintenance, officials said Friday.
“We are going to use this temporary disruption to the advantage of Paine Field and our airline partners by completing necessary infrastructure improvements faster than we would have been able to while the terminal was open and flight operations were taking place,” said Brett Smith, CEO of Propeller Airports.
Propeller, a private company, owns and operates the terminal through a lease agreement with Snohomish County, which owns the airport. The company will pay for the repairs to the pavement on the aircraft side of the terminal, Smith said.
The 71-day closure is approved by the Federal Aviation Administration and has the support of Alaska Airlines and United Airlines, which share the terminal, he said.
Smith said repairs and maintenance had been scheduled to be completed gradually over a four-month period. But with only one or two scheduled daily flights, closing will allow repairs to be completed in less time.
During the closure, Alaska will not have any flights arriving or departing Paine Field. The Seattle-based carrier will accommodate travelers affected by the closure, including re-booking their travel through Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, the airline said.
As of Friday, Alaska operates just one flight a day from Everett. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Alaska had 18 daily departures to 10 destinations from Everett.
Said Matthew Shelby, Alaska’s managing director of airport real estate, in a statement Friday: “The airport has a unique opportunity to consolidate and accelerate several smaller construction projects into a larger project that will ultimately impact fewer passengers for a shorter period of time. Because much of the work is safety related and otherwise highly impactful to the operation, we can appreciate why they would want to do this now, at a time when traffic is down and that impact is greatly reduced.”
United Airlines also has reduced the number of daily flights to Denver, according to Flightradar24, which monitors air traffic around the world.
United Airlines spokesman Jonathan Guerin said the airline is suspending service between Paine Field and Denver through July. “We plan to resume service once construction at the airport has been completed,” Guerin said.
Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers said in a statement Friday, “With the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on travel, this necessary construction work can be done much more quickly now. Propeller is a good partner with Snohomish County, and we support their efforts to get this work done with minimal impact on the public. We look forward to travel resuming and the continuing success of the Paine Field terminal.”
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.
When service resumes, Smith said, he expects service to resume with 24 daily departures, the federal limit.
“The travel industry has never faced an economic challenge of this magnitude,” Smith said.
Janice Podsada; firstname.lastname@example.org; 425-339-3097; Twitter: JanicePods