It’s official: Paine Field (PAE) in Everett, Washington, is the newest dot on the USA’s commercial aviation map.
Alaska Airlines became the first commercial carrier in decades to fly from Everett, located about 25 miles north of downtown Seattle, on Monday, launching service from the nation’s newest passenger terminal with a flight to Portland, Oregon.
It was a ceremonial flight, filled with staff from the airline and airport as well as other invited guests celebrating the opening of the new terminal. The first flight carrying paying customers departed Everett for Las Vegas a half-hour later, according to The Seattle Times.
The newspaper says the “aviation enthusiasts, politicians and airline brass” all turned up at the terminal to witness its debut.
“It’s a historic moment for Snohomish County,” Everett resident Ryan Crowther told KOM, a Seattle TV station.
He said he booked a seat on the Las Vegas flight just to be a part of the airport’s first day of service.
“That’s the fun of it. I really have no interest in going to Vegas on a Monday,” Crowther said. “But to be part of a first experience of walking through the terminal, being 10 minutes away from my house, and seeing the excitement, it’s worth it,” he added to KOMO.
Alaska Airlines is now selling tickets on eight nonstop routes from Everett. In addition to Las Vegas and Portland, the carrier will also fly from Paine Field to Phoenix and five California airports: Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego; San Francisco, and San Jose.
“The opening of a brand-new commercial air terminal at Paine Field is history in the making,” Andrew Harrison, Alaska Airlines’ chief commercial officer, said in a statement. “From Everett, our guests can travel more easily and more quickly to eight terrific West Coast cities.
Soon, Alaska Airlines will have company at Paine Field. As of March 31, United Airlines will become the second carrier to fly from the airport with flights to Denver and San Francisco. Southwest also had planned to fly from Everett, but it backtracked and relinquished its flight slots there to Alaska Airlines, which announced its intention to fly out of Everett in May 2017.
The return of Paine Field to the U.S. aviation maphas become a highly anticipated aviation story for 2019, both locally and among U.S. industry observers.
Despite not hosting commercial flights, Paine Field has remained busy in recent decades thanks to private aviation and its adjacency to Boeing’s largest assembly line. The U.S. jet maker performs final assembly on its 747, 767, 777 and 787 widebody aircraft there.
Seattle-based Alaska Airlines already operates a busy hub at the fast-growing Seattle-Tacoma International Airport that sits about 15 miles south of the city.
When it announced its plans for Everett, it touted the move as a way to expand its reach into the northern stretch of Seattle’s metro area, where travelers can face daunting traffic on Interstate 5 to get to Seattle-Tacoma.
United also flies from Seattle-Tacoma, where it offers up to 40 daily flights to its U.S. hubs.
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