PAINE FIELD AIRPORT 18TH ANNUAL AEROSPACE CONFERENCE | SOARING TO SUCCESS BY ARIF GHOUSE Director / Paine Field Airport The county owned airport near Everett is getting a lot of attention as tickets go on sale for daily commercial passenger flights connecting to nine cities in the Western U.S., including Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas and Denver. Two airlines, Alaska and United, expect in the weeks ahead to be geared up and fully operational at Paine Field, offering a total of 24 daily departures. “The addition of commercial flights will be transformational for our economy and for those who travel,” said Dave Somers, Snohomish County executive. “Flights will connect our community to new people, new places and new opportunities.” Commercial air service at Paine Field has been made possible because of an innovative lease with Propeller Airports. The private company has spent upwards of $40 million to design and build a state-of-the-art terminal that the company will own and operate at the publicly owned airport. Such public-private business arrangements are common at airports in Europe. The Paine Field agreement is believed to be the first of its type in the U.S. It promises a vital service to those who live in the region, while also insuring taxpayers don’t have to foot the bill, Somers said. Paine Field already is the county’s economic engine. It is home to nearly half of the aerospace manufacturing jobs in Washington. Its annual economic impact is estimated at more than $20 billion. The airfield is the big reason for that success. At 9,010-feet- long, Paine Field’s main runway is big enough and strong enough for use by the world’s largest commercial aircraft. It was along that stretch of pavement on Feb. 9, 1969 that The Boeing Company launched its first 747. A half-century later, Paine Field remains home to Boeing’s bustling Everett wide- body jet factory. The county-operated airfield also is used by Aviation Technical Services to run one of the largest third- party aircraft inspection and repair facilities in North America, providing services for airlines such as Alaska, American, JetBlue, Southwest and others. Paine Field’s connection to aerospace manufacturing and repair were key in ground-breaking agreements reached in recent years with Chubu Centrair International Airport in Japan and with the Shanghai Airport Authority in China. The agreements focus on supporting development of each region’s aerospace industry. “We will continue to look for opportunities to link our major job center with economic engines in the Pacific Rim,” Somers said. Paine Field continues to host a vibrant general aviation community. More than 600 aircraft already are based there and account for the majority of the more than 300 flights logged each day. The airport also hosts four aerospace museums. One of those attractions, the Future of Flight Aviation Center & Boeing Tour, is the county’s single-biggest tourist draw with about 320,000 visitors a year. The county built the center in 2005. Boeing recently assumed its operation under a long-term lease. The arrival of commercial service is expected to bring more than 1 million people to and through the airport each year. The local hospitality industry is excited. Leaders at area hotels, motels, and casinos see air service as making the county a more attractive destination for conventions – something that long travel times to SeaTac have worked against. A boom in commercial real estate also is forecast as more-efficient travel options make Snohomish County even more competitive for business. IT’S AN EXCITING TIME IN SNOHOMISH COUNTY, PARTICULARLY AT PAINE FIELD AIRPORT 42