An Alaska Airlines Embraer 175. The carrier plans to use this model on routes to and from Paine Field in Everett. (Alaska Airlines)

An Alaska Airlines Embraer 175. The carrier plans to use this model on routes to and from Paine Field in Everett. (Alaska Airlines)

Federal shutdown could delay Paine Field passenger flights

The FAA says furloughs at the agency might postpone the final decision on Everett airline service.

EVERETT — Final federal approval of commercial passenger service at Paine Field, which was expected to begin Feb. 11, could be delayed by the ongoing government shutdown, an official said Tuesday.

Gregory Martin, a Federal Aviation Administration spokesman in Washington, D.C., told The Daily Herald that “the partial shutdown could potentially delay” the agency’s approval or disapproval, which will be based on a revised environmental assessment. “Beyond that, I cannot speculate (about) its potential release as the shutdown continues.”

The outcome is widely expected to be approval, and airlines have been booking flights to and from Paine Field for weeks. Alaska Airlines and United Airlines are offering a combined 24 daily departures from Everett, with Alaska planning to launch service beginning Feb. 11 and United starting March 31.

But on Tuesday, Alaska conceded there could be a snag if the shutdown drags on.

“The FAA is continuing its work on the Paine Field environmental assessment and other required approvals, and so far we don’t believe the partial government shutdown has impacted the process,” Alaska spokesman Ray Lane said in an email. “However, if the shutdown lasts much longer, there may be an impact. We continue to work with FAA on this and are closely monitoring developments on the shutdown.”

Although the air traffic control system has been functioning as usual, a spokeswoman for an airline trade association said the effects of furloughs at the Federal Aviation Administration are widespread.

“Some carriers are beginning to see the effects of the government shutdown — specifically regarding certification of new aircraft and the implementation of new training programs for pilots, as well as training for air traffic controllers and other aviation employees,” said Alison McAfee of Airlines for America. “We urge elected leaders to reach an agreement and reopen the federal government quickly.”

Arif Ghouse, director of Snohomish County-owned Paine Field, said “any delay would be disappointing.”

“We look forward to the start of commercial service at Paine Field and the many benefits it will bring to the region,” Ghouse said.

Brett Smith, president and CEO of Everett-based Propeller Airports, which built and will manage the new Everett terminal, said he expects it will open on time.

Propeller is nearing completion of the two-gate terminal on the east side of the airport, near the control tower. It has a lease agreement with the county.

Last fall, the FAA issued a draft supplemental environmental assessment that weighed the effect of up to 24 flights per day at Paine Field. An expired 2012 assessment reached a similar conclusion, but it gauged the impact of fewer airlines and only 12 flights a day. The new assessment underwent a 30-day public comment period ending Nov. 2 and found no significant issues, but the FAA still must issue a written decision ratifying the report’s findings or requiring more scrutiny.

The FAA employs about 43,000 people, and more than 17,000 have been furloughed.

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

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

A big decision for Boeing’s next CEO: Is it time for a new plane?

As Boeing faces increased competition from Airbus, the company is expected to appoint a new CEO by the end of the year.

A Mukilteo Speedway sign hangs at an intersection along the road in Mukilteo. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Mukilteo Speedway name change is off to a bumpy start

The city’s initial crack at renaming the main drag got over 1,500 responses. Most want to keep the name.

Two workers walk past a train following a press event at the Lynnwood City Center Link Station on Friday, June 7, 2024, in Lynnwood, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Trains up and running on Lynnwood Link — but no passengers quite yet

Officials held an event at the Lynnwood station announcing the start of “pre-revenue” service. Passengers still have to wait till August.

Nedra Vranish, left, and Karen Thordarson, right browse colorful glass flowers at Fuse4U during Sorticulture on Friday, June 7, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
A promenade through Everett’s popular Sorticulture garden festival

Check out a gallery of the festival’s first day.

Left to right, Everett Pride board members Ashley Turner, Bryce Laake, and Kevin Daniels pose for a photo at South Fork Bakery in Everett, Washington on Sunday, May 26, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Second Everett Pride aims for even bigger rainbow of festivities

Organizers estimated about 3,000 people attended the first block party in Everett. This year, they’re aiming for 10,000.

A house fire seriously injured two people Friday evening, June 14, in Edmonds, Washington. (Courtesy of South County Fire.)
1 killed, 1 with life-threatening injuries in Edmonds house fire

South County Fire crews pulled the man and woman from the burning home around 6 p.m. Friday, near 224th Street SW and 72nd Place W.

Melinda Grenier serves patrons at her coffee truck called Hay Girl Coffee during the third annual Arlington Pride event in Arlington, Washington on Sunday, June 2, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Hidden costs, delays crush hopeful food truck owners in Snohomish County

Melinda Grenier followed her dream to open Hay Girl Coffee. Thousands in fees later, it has cost her more than she bargained for.

The I-5, Highway 529 and the BNSF railroad bridges cross over Union Slough as the main roadways for north and southbound traffic between Everett and Marysville. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Highway 529 squeeze starts now between Everett, Marysville

Following a full closure for a night, starting late Sunday, Highway 529 will slim down to two lanes for months near the Snohomish River Bridge.

Lynnwood
New Jersey auto group purchases Lynnwood Lexus dealership land

Holman, which owns Lexus of Seattle in Lynnwood, bought property on which the dealership resides.

Marvin Arellano (Photo provided)
Family: ‘Manic episode’ preceded trooper shooting man on I-5 near Everett

“It’s very, very unfortunate how he was portrayed in his final moments,” Gilbert Arellano said. “He was just such a good person.”

Two visitors comb the beach at Kayak Point Regional County Park on Friday, June 14, 2024, in Tulalip, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Kayak Point reopens ahead of schedule

The county’s most popular park reopened Friday.

Grauates throw their caps in the air at the end of Arlington High School graduation at Angel of the Winds Arena on Thursday, June 13, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
‘So worth it’: Snohomish County graduates step into their futures

Alyssa Acosta, who is Harvard-bound, was one of thousands to walk the stage at Angel of the Winds Arena this month to get high school diplomas.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.