Alaska Airlines eyes adding flights

Alaska Airlines is setting the stage to fly out of Paine Field in Everett, Wash., with three proposed round-trip flights a week to Kahului Airport, the company said Thursday.

The Seattle-based airline is working with the Federal Aviation Administration to add Paine Field as an authorized airport for the carrier’s operations, an airline news release said. This is a required step if the carrier were to begin jet service out of the regional airport at some point in the future.

The news release notes that Paine Field currently has no adequate passenger terminal, which would need to be built before operations by any airline could begin.

As required by its application, Alaska Airlines is providing the FAA with a proposed schedule over the next five years that could include 49 round-trip jet flights a week. In addition to the three Maui-to-Everett flights, on a 737-800 aircraft, the airline proposes four round-trip flights between Everett and Honolulu.

The airline also proposes Everett connections with Las Vegas; Portland, Ore.; Los Angeles; Phoenix and San Diego.

“We continue to believe that our flights at Sea-Tac Airport and in Bellingham best serve the Puget Sound region’s needs for affordable air travel, particularly in light of the significant investments both airports have made recently to improve their facilities,” said Andrew Harrison, Alaska Airlines’ vice president of planning and revenue management. “That said, if one or more other airlines begin operations at Paine Field, we would commence service alongside these carriers.”

Allegiant Air also has expressed interest in flying out of Paine Field, according to a report in The Seattle Times in December.

Alaska Airlines operates about 1,750 weekly round-trip flights at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, located 42 miles south of Paine Field, and up to 63 weekly round-trip flights at Bellingham International Airport, which is about a one-hour’s drive north of Everett.

Alaska Airlines informed the FAA that these proposed schedules could change depending on competitors, business and economic factors and the needs of its customers. The carrier also is seeking information from the FAA about any necessary environmental review of its proposed schedule, given a pending legal challenge to the agency’s approval of commercial air service at Paine Field in December.

Published reports indicate that there has been public opposition to commercial flights at Paine Field. The state also must do an environmental study; Snohomish County, which owns and operates the airport, would have to figure out how to fund and build a passenger terminal, The Seattle Times report said.