EVERETT — Alaska meet Alaska.
Alaska Airlines will begin serving Anchorage, Alaska with a daily nonstop flight from the new passenger terminal at Paine Field in November.
The Seattle-based carrier announced the new round trip Thursday at a Snohomish gathering sponsored by Economic Alliance Snohomish County.
At 1,900 miles, Anchorage becomes the farthest destination and longest flight Alaska serves from Paine Field, Brett Catlin, vice president of network and alliances at parent Alaska Air Group told The Daily Herald ahead of the announcement.
“It’s our first route to fly north from Paine,” Catlin said. Of the nine destinations the carrier currently serves, all are south of Everett.
A Horizon Embraer 175 jet that seats 76 will make the flight in under four hours, he said.
Alaska Airlines and sibling regional carrier Horizon Air are the sole airline tenants that serve Paine Field. United Airlines ended service at the Snohomish County-owned airport in October 2021.
Propeller Airports, a privately owned firm, built and operates the three-year old passenger terminal in a public-private partnership with Snohomish County. The three-gate terminal has two jet bridges and a third gate for passengers to board from the pavement.
“We know the community will be very excited about this, and of course we are pleased that Alaska continues to invest in growing at Paine Field,” said Brett Smith, Propeller’s CEO.
Catlin told Thursday’s gathering: “We listened to our guests who live and work from north of Seattle to the Canadian border. They told us one of their top requests is a nonstop flight between Everett and Anchorage. There’s a significant need and demand to connect workers and businesses in the two regions — from the fishing industry to aviation — in addition to the desire for leisure travel. We’re ready to welcome our guests on this new route this fall,” Catlin said.
Garry Clark, president and CEO of Economic Alliance said: “This is extra sweet due to Alaska Airlines’ history. Anchorage served as the first flight location for Alaska Airlines and its founder Linious ‘Mac’ McGee back in 1932. Snohomish County is grateful for Alaska and its continued efforts at Paine Field.”
Tickets are now available for Everett-Anchorage flights, which start Nov. 30.
The Everett flight is expected to be comparable in price to Anchorage flights from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
Passenger fares at Paine are roughly on par with Sea-Tac rates at this point, Catlin said.
Air travel has rebounded since the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic turned airports into ghost towns and idled more than 90% of the nation’s passenger fleet.
On Wednesday, more than 1.9 million passengers passed through Transportation Security Administration checkpoints nationwide, compared to 1.5 million the same day a year ago and 2 million the same day in 2019.
Alaska currently serves nine destinations and operates 18 daily flights from Everett, the carrier’s full allotment when the Paine Field passenger terminal opened in March 2019.
Based on seasonal demand, Alaska plans to ratchet down the frequency of service on some routes in the fall to about a dozen daily flights, Catlin said.
Alaska and Horizon will serve nine destinations: Anchorage, Boise, Las Vegas, Orange County, Palm Springs, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco and Spokane.
The carrier’s jets are taking off full from Paine Field, averaging nearly 90% capacity, Catlin said.
Still, because of its newness, Paine Field presents some challenges.
While local demand for service is robust, it takes time to build awareness outside Snohomish County and throughout Alaska’s network that Paine Field is an alternative to Sea-Tac, Catlin said.
New airline service alone can take two or three years to become widely known, Catlin said, adding that when you consider Paine Field only recently debuted as a regional passenger airport, the timeline is apt to double to four to six years.
It’s one reason Alaska is not yet offering service to Chicago, gateway to the Midwest and East Coast, Catlin said.
“Chicago is our number one market under consideration for flights from Paine Field,” Catlin said. “Chicago makes a ton of sense, it would connect to our partner, American Airlines,” he said. but we believe it would work.”
However, generating demand for the Everett-bound flight in the Chicago area must be part of the equation for the route to be successful, Catlin said.
Other factors currently limiting the expansion of service at Paine Field include an industry-wide pilot and crew shortage that has affected many domestic airlines, resulting in flight frequency reductions and canceled flights, Catlin said.
On the operations side, this year Horizon began operating a new 74,000-square-foot hangar and maintenance facility on Paine Field property. The hangar can hold up to four Embraer 175 aircraft at a time, Catlin said.
Since Alaska kicked off scheduled service in March 2019 at Paine Field, the airline has flown roughly 1.3 million passengers to and from Paine Field.
“We are committed to the success of this airport,” Catlin said.
Janice Podsada: 425-339-3097; firstname.lastname@example.org;