Seattle area travelers will have two airport options starting next year. Alaska Airlines says it's bringing commercial flights to Paine Field, bordering Everett and Mukilteo, by fall of 2018. It's the first airline to do so.
Alaska Airlines has announced plans for nine daily flights in and out of Paine Field, bringing about 1,000 passengers a day to the airport. Joe Sprague, vice president of external relations, says Alaska can't say what cities yet, but they will be a mix of regional and national locations.
Sprague: "What I can absolutely confirm is that they will be popular destinations, and popular in the sense that they will be places that we already know are in high demand by folks that live in Snohomish County and in that part of the region."
Alaska will fly the Boeing 737 and the new, smaller Embraer 175 jet out of Paine Field.
Sprague: "As the Seattle region's home town airline, it's really very exciting for us to be taking a historic step. We couldn't be more pleased to be the airline to create this new service for folks that live in Snohomish County, northern King County, and the surrounding areas."
But some residents are trying to stop commercial airlines from coming to Paine Field. Right now the airport is used primarily as test grounds for Boeing. That's the way Mukilteo Mayor Jennifer Gregerson wants to keep it.
Gregerson: "We think that the best use of Paine Field is really to support the aerospace industry. And Boeing itself having access to an airport where they can do their testing and provide those great family-wage jobs, that's always been a priority for our community."
The city of Mukilteo and a community group have filed an appeal of the plans for commercial travel. They say more environmental review needs to happen. The state Supreme Court will decide this summer whether to hear the argument.
Snohomish County owns the airport and approved plans for commercial flights in 2015. Discussions began in 2009, when FAA officials threatened to cut off federal funding for Snohomish County if its commissioners refused to consider commercial flight service.
Alaska says when flights begin out of Paine Field, the airline's service to the SeaTac and Bellingham international airports will not be affected. The airline operates about 300 daily flights in/out of SeaTac.