Paine Field’s first commercial airport expansion is currently under development by Propeller Airports, an airport development company that focuses on catering to niche markets, providing an alternative to the crowded hallways of larger airports. The development is the result of pioneering efforts by Propeller, which seeks to expand into more regional markets.
“I think this will be the nicest terminal in the United States,” said Propeller CEO Brett Smith. “We’re going to operate 24 flights per day to 20 destinations, with room for roughly 1800 passengers.”
Smith has been interested in aviation since childhood. Opening privatized airports are a natural progression of his passion and the Pacific Northwest provides a great environment for him to do so.
“The people of this county and the people in this state know that the only way forward is to break new ground,” said Smith. “This was supposed to be the airport for Seattle, and here we are 80+ years later, as it was originally intended to be.”
Before being used for military development during WWII, and later by Boeing’s commercial aircraft business, Paine Field had been intended as a passenger airport, similar to Sea-Tac today. Although the size of the facility will be significantly smaller than Sea-Tac. Smith believes that it will be a more luxurious experience.
“Why are we using taxpayer money to fund [the development of airports which] could be done successfully, even better, by the private sector?” said Smith. “It is in my best interest to charge the airlines as least as possible to encourage passengers to use my airport. Ticket prices should be similar to Sea-Tac departures.”
Even though the ticket prices are estimated to be similar to that of Sea-Tac, the new terminal will have amenities that are impossible at larger airports. Designed to be similar to a hotel, it will feature a focus on customer service that is unmatched in other airports.
“There will be valet parking, manned podiums for guests to check in, and a large room with floor to ceiling windows, and fireplaces,” said Smith. “It is designed with the guest experience in mind.”
The planned deluxe terminal is the second of Propeller’s projects, the first in Georgia which is still under development. Opening in the fall, it will be the first of the company’s terminals to open. It will be serviced by Alaska Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and United Airlines, each of which have committed several flights per day to the Everett-based field.
“Paine field already sees about 12 large aircraft flights per day, from Boeing and military flights,” said RAHS junior Nathaniel Vigdor. “If the airlines decide to add more flights, or the terminal decides to expand, it could significantly increase the volume of traffic that the area sees.”
There has been some resistance to the development, but nothing more than should be expected for any industrious expansion near a populated area. Environmental impact studies have shown that the planned number of flights will not excessively affect the environment, but should the number of flights be significantly increased, a reassessment would likely be necessary.
“I think the development is very interesting because it is one of the first of its kind in our area,” said Vigdor. “I hope that the concept will expand more, as it will provide for a close, easily accessible airport for my neighborhood. It is cool that we now have an alternative.”