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

After escaping on Wednesday, an emu named Sarah has been safely returned to AJ's Acre, a farm located near the Alexander Road and the Mukilteo Speedway. (AJ's Acre)
An escaped emu is returned to its farm in Mukilteo

Missing since Wednesday, the female bird was noticed by a neighbor and safely recovered Saturday.

Erin Staadecker (left-right) Jael Weinburg and Kaylee Allen with Rosie formed the Edmonds firm Creative Dementia Collective. The company helps memory care patients and care-givers by providing art, music and other creative therapies. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
This startup offers artful therapy for dementia patients

Creative Dementia Collective uses art and music to help them — and their caregivers.

The Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine is prepared for injection Friday at Angel of the Winds Arena. (Snohomish Health District) 20210305
New vaccination site opens at Angel of the Winds Arena

Meanwhile, supply is still an issue now that teachers and child care workers are seeking shots.

Broadway closed after ‘small explosive device’ is found

The Everett Police Department bomb squad responded and “rendered it inert.”

People experiencing homelessness along Smith Avenue would need to find a new area to live if the Everett City Council passes a no-sit, no-lie ordinance. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Public speaks out against Everett’s ‘no-sit, no-lie’ proposal

The ordinance would target homeless people near the site of a proposed village of small shelter dwellings.

NO CAPTION NECESSARY: Logo for the Cornfield Report by Jerry Cornfield. 20200112
Inslee: The president made me speed up teacher vaccinations

Here’s what’s happening on Day 54 of the 2021 session of the Washington Legislature.

A Boeing 787 operated by All Nippon Airways taxis under a rainbow created by fire trucks at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Monday, Oct. 1, 2012, in Seattle, during an official welcome ceremony after it landed on the first day of service for the aircraft on ANA's Seattle-Tokyo route. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Last Everett-built Boeing 787 rolls off the assembly line

Production of the once-hot Dreamliner is being consolidated at the company’s South Carolina plant.

Darlene Tanis sorts through book titles Thursday morning at the Everett Library on March 4, 2021. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Shrinking the ‘digital divide,’ area libraries slowly reopen

This week, services such as computer and Wi-Fi use — and even book-browsing — were reinstated.

Everett woman, 20, charged after allegedly stabbing roommate

Multiple surgeries saved the injured woman’s life after she was stabbed in the heart and a lung.

Most Read