EVERETT — In a sign of how popular Paine Field passenger flights could become, the company overseeing the nearly finished terminal building there is looking to expand customer parking in a big way.
A proposed change to the lease between Propeller Airports and Snohomish County, which owns and operates the airport, would enlarge the project’s footprint by more than 40 percent, to about 15 acres. The expansion area has been used for aircraft.
That would help provide room for about 1,100 parking stalls, Propeller CEO Brett Smith said.
“I don’t want people to get there and not have a place to park,” he said. “That would make the experience horrible. People would miss flights. It’s better to have more than less in this situation.”
Smith said he was thinking of peak periods such as Thanksgiving and Christmas.
The parking adjustments come as federal officials prepare to release a key environmental document at the end of the month and terminal construction approaches completion.
The extra land would allow room to nearly double the 574 parking spaces described in earlier plans.
The County Council is set to vote on the contract amendment during its 9 a.m. meeting Wednesday.
Parking has been part of the discussion since Propeller and the county reached their original lease agreement in 2015, county spokesman Kent Patton said.
More recently, the number of proposed flights has doubled to 24 per day. Alaska Airlines, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines have announced plans to operate there.
Patton said another factor is that Propeller and the airlines now anticipate more tourist travelers. Compared to business travelers, vacationers are thought to be more likely to drive their own cars to the airport, rather than take a shuttle or taxi, he said.
Before paying customers can catch direct flights from Everett to Denver or San Francisco, among several other Western cities, the Federal Aviation Administration must update its environmental assessment for the terminal. The agency’s 2012 study examined half the number of flights, though generally with older, noisier jets.
“The FAA remains on track to release the draft supplemental environmental assessment to the public at the end of September,” an agency spokesman said in an email.
After the document becomes public, people will have 30 days to comment. The FAA also must schedule a public hearing. Flights could start early next year, if the process moves along.
Propeller’s Smith said he expects terminal construction to finish up early next month.
The updated lease agreement would increase Propeller’s monthly rate to nearly $54,000 from about $37,000 now. The airport also is due to receive a share of ticket and parking revenue, once the terminal is up and running.
The lease is valid for 30 years, with two optional 10-year extensions.
Janice Podsada contributed to this report.