The new passenger terminal on the east side of Paine Field in Everett. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

The new passenger terminal on the east side of Paine Field in Everett. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Federal shutdown delays start of airline service in Everett

Key FAA officials, who must give a final OK to Paine Field passenger flights, are on furlough.

EVERETT — Alaska Airlines says it will delay the start of commercial passenger service at Paine Field by at least three weeks due to the ongoing partial shutdown of the federal government.

Alaska and United Airlines plan a combined 24 daily flights at a new passenger terminal at the airport, but they are awaiting Federal Aviation Administration approval. The officials who must sign off on a final environmental assessment are on furlough.

Alaska planned to begin service on Feb. 11, but the uncertainty surrounding the federal shutdown prompted a delay until March 4. Even that date might not be a sure thing if the government shutdown continues, the carrier said Tuesday.

United Airlines, which plans a March 31 start, declined to comment.

Alaska said it would work with ticket holders to provide refunds or book travel from Sea-Tac Airport, at no additional cost.

“We know our guests who purchased tickets to and from Paine Field will be disappointed by this delay — so are we,” said Andrew Harrison, the chief commercial officer for Alaska Airlines. “There are certain things that are simply out of our control. We apologize if your travel plans need to change.”

Some 800,000 federal workers have been idled for more than a month in a face-off between President Donald Trump, who is demanding more than $5 billion to build a barrier and make other improvements along the nation’s southern border, and U.S. House Democrats, who want to negotiate that line item apart from the full government budget.

Alaska’s postponement of Everett service was “a tough decision, but we believe the responsible action,” Harrison said in a written statement. The airline said it will continue to prepare for operations at Paine Field, including hiring and training.

A new two-gate passenger terminal at Paine Field was built and will be managed by a private company, Everett-based Propeller Airports, under a lease agreement with the airport’s owner, Snohomish County.

Brett Smith, the CEO of Propeller Airports, said the delay illustrates the shutdown’s impact.

“There are real consequences to the government shutdown for the private sector, and delaying commercial service from Paine Field is one of them,” Smith said. “Like everyone else, we hope that our leaders in D.C. can resolve this situation soon. As always, Alaska Airlines is doing what’s in the best interest of their customers, and we look forward to their starting service on March 4.”

In a news release, Alaska Airlines said the choice of March 4 was “a judgment call on our part because we don’t know when the government shutdown will end. We selected a new date for start of service that could allow time for a resolution, but not too far out in case the shutdown suddenly ended. We’re hopeful our operations at Paine Field will get up and running soon and we can get our guests going places.”

If the shutdown continues, Alaska might need to push the start of service further into the future.

“We can’t start flying at Paine Field until we have all the required, final government approvals. We’re making the best business decisions we can during a difficult situation,” the airline said.

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

Talk to us

More in Local News

Marysville
Want to serve on the Marysville School Board? There’s a vacancy

Katie Jackson resigned in November for personal reasons. The board plans to fill the spot by Jan. 4.

Robert Miller blows snow out of the parking lot next to his home as snow comes down on Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Snow arrives earlier than expected in Everett; more expected Tuesday night

Forecasted snow arrives earlier than expected. Wind, winter weather advisories are in effect through Wednesday afternoon.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Lake Stevens in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Man identified in fatal Lake Stevens crash

Bradley Gilbert, 52, of Lake Stevens, died in the crash on State Route 92 last week.

Clyde Shavers, left, and Greg Gilday.
Shavers wins by narrow margin as Dems flip seat in 10th District

Democrat Clyde Shavers won by 211 votes against incumbent state Rep. Greg Gilday. It’s close enough for a recount.

NO CAPTION. Logo to accompany news of Washington state.
Medicare open enrollment ends Dec. 7

Find information and resources to help make the best choice for you.

Marysville Jail (City of Marysville)
Man with hepatitis C accused of spitting on Marysville jail staff

Hepatitis C is usually spread through blood. The suspect, 28, faces allegations of exposing the officers to a contagious disease.

A sign posted on the door of Bits’n Pieces in Arlington. (Jacqueline Allison / The Herald)
‘3 Students’ max: Arlington businesses bemoan early release, rowdy teens

Since middle-school students started getting released at 1:15 p.m. Fridays, downtown businesses saw a rise in disruptive behavior.

Eric Wilkinson, a Community Transit driver of 17 years, departs from Seaway Transit Center in an empty 280 bus Friday, Nov. 25, 2022, in Everett, Washington. Wilkinson said he usually has about 5 passengers from Boeing on the bus to Granite Falls, but had none Friday because Boeing was closed for the holiday weekend. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Driver shortage prompts Community Transit’s trip cut proposal

Reducing service, by 78 trips total on 9 routes, could make for more reliable arrivals and departures in March.

Influenza A data from The Everett Clinic labs.
Second flu death since 2020 reported in Snohomish County

A Lynnwood woman died last week in Everett. County health officials say this could be worst flu season since the pandemic.

Most Read