Commercial flights topic of Chamber panel
by Beckye Randall
Proponents of commercial air service at Paine Field took the podium at a meeting of the Greater Marysville Tulalip Chamber of Commerce, held October 31 at the Tulalip Casino, to discuss the benefits of increased service from the county’s airport.
According to the release advertising the event, the chamber has been a vocal advocate for the commercialization of Paine Field for years, and the meeting was tightly controlled to discourage negative comments.
Panel members included Todd Brunner from the citizens group Fly Paine Field, Dan Russo representing Horizon Air, Marysville Mayor Dennis Kendall and State Representative John McCoy.
Russo said that Horizon believes “the opportunity exists to supplement existing air service with additional flights from Paine Field.” The airline is proposing six flights per day from Snohomish County, two to Spokane and four to Portland.
Addressing concerns about noise and pollution, Russo said the airline’s newest aircraft, the 76-seat Q400 Turboprop, is quieter than jet engines and uses 30 percent less fuel than its jet counterparts.
Kendall announced that the City of Marysville had recently adopted a resolution in support of commercial air service at Paine Field.
Noting that “we’ve always built our way out of economic downturns,” McCoy was enthusiastic about the business and tourism opportunities that would come from a local commercial airport.
The county is obligated to negotiate with Horizon Air and other airlines, including Allegiant, that wish to use the airfield. Citing federal restrictions on the airport’s deed and federal grants for operations, Koster reminded the audience that “the county can’t choose sides.”
“Our choice is not between ruining the airport and ruining Mukilteo,” he claimed. “That is a false dichotomy.”
Mukilteo Mayor Joe Marine, a guest at the breakfast meeting, disagreed. “We are creating a monster we won’t be able to control,” he said.
Horizon may begin service out of Paine Field by mid-May of next year, depending on available facilities and construction costs for a passenger terminal.