EVERETT — United Airlines is departing Everett. After two years at Paine Field, the carrier will discontinue its flights in October.
“Airlines all over are making post-pandemic adjustments to their schedules and markets,” said Brett Smith, CEO of Propeller Airports. “You’re going to see United and other airlines pulling out of various markets. … It wasn’t surprising to me.”
Propeller Airports, a private company, built and now operates the Paine Field Passenger Terminal. After United announced last year that it was discontinuing its flights from Paine Field to San Francisco, the airline’s only remaining flights were to Denver. The commercial carrier currently has one daily flight between Everett and Denver, according to its spokesperson.
“United has continued to evaluate and adapt its network and based on demand trends, the airline will suspend service from Denver (DEN) to Everett, Washington (PAE), effective Oct. 5, 2021,” a United Airlines spokesperson wrote in an email. “United will continue to serve the region with non-stop service to Seattle (SEA) from Denver, New York/Newark, Houston, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C. and San Francisco.”
Although United is ending its service in Everett, the airport has seen a lot of travelers, Smith said. Planes are leaving Paine Field at almost 100% capacity right now. Earlier this year, Alaska Airlines announced that it is increasing the number of flights and destinations it offers to Paine Field travelers.
“People are starting to travel in big numbers,” Smith said. “For United, this isn’t a big market. … If Alaska said they were pulling out, this would be a big story, but that’s not happening.”
Alaska and United are the only commercial air carriers at the airport. Alaska Airlines did not respond to request for comment Monday.
A spokesperson for Paine Field, a county-owned airport, confirmed United Airlines’ exit Monday morning.
“It’s disappointing, but they are going to fly where they have passengers,” Paine Field spokesperson Kristin Banfield said.
In an emailed statement, Snohomish County Executive Office staff wrote that air travel continues to rebound from the pandemic and that more than 1 million passengers travelled through Paine Field its first year in operation.
“Although the United Airlines announcement today is unfortunate, we have every confidence in the future of passenger air service at Paine Field,” wrote chief of staff Joshua Dugan.
Terrie Battuello, vice president of economic development for Economic Alliance Snohomish County, said the airport has been wildly popular with travelers. Battuello said the news doesn’t change passengers’ desire to travel using the Snohomish County airport and doesn’t foresee any major economic impacts.
Smith gave few details about what will happen after United Airlines no longer offers flights at Paine Field.
“These spaces will be filled by an airline,” Smith said. “We sign confidentiality agreements with our customers and that doesn’t allow me to tell you who or what or when.”
The Propeller CEO said he “wouldn’t be surprised” if another carrier took over the Denver route.
“The underlying business principles remain strong and we’re 100% committed,” Smith said. “We’re confident that by the end of the year we’re going to be full steam again.”
Reporter Jerry Cornfield contributed to this story: firstname.lastname@example.org; @dospueblos.
Katie Hayes: email@example.com; Twitter: @misskatiehayes.
Katie Hayes is a Report for America corps member and writes about issues that affect the working class for The Daily Herald.