Snohomish County’s Paine Field Airport is developing a Master Plan that will address airport needs thru 2040. The airport master plan consultant, Landrum & Brown, recently released an airport forecast, a chapter of the developing Master Plan and you can comment on the chapter through November 24th at https://www.painefieldmasterplan.com/

The Paine Field Airport forecast summary chapter highlighted several key elements.

  • In the wake of the pandemic, Paine Field will recover back to 2019 passenger levels by 2025. About 1 million passengers used Paine Field in 2019.
  • SeaTac Airport will begin to experience unmet passenger demand starting around 2037
  • Underlying economic conditions and primarily population growth will drive demand at Paine Field in the future
  • This traffic demand will come primarily from Snohomish and northern King Counties

Paine Field is currently limited to 24 daily arrivals and 24 departures. Currently as the region emerges from the pandemic that dampened air travel, Alaska Airlines will operate up to 12 departures a day starting on January 4th of next year. United Airlines ended Paine Field operations earlier this year.

Total passenger traffic is forecast to grow to near 4.3 million by 2040. As a result, the Master Plan will lay out how the airport can accommodate this additional passenger traffic as well as other aviation needs. One option has already been ruled out – the need for another runway.

Those other aviation needs include more facilities for general aviation and air cargo operations. Fed Ex recently moved into the former Boeing Dreamlifter Operations Center at the airport and started cargo operations. With additional general aviation needs, the requirement for more hanger space and locations for aircraft lease positions exists. The airport property sits on about 1300 acres and nearly 120 acres on the west side are undeveloped.

Other airport improvements being considered include upgrades to access roads, tarmacs, taxiways, and other pavements. The recent Congressionally passed Infrastructure Bill will help pay for these improvements.

The Airport Master Plan will address the long-term strategy for growth in air passenger traffic and the need for more airport support facilities. In the larger picture involving future aviation needs in the whole Puget Sound region, particularly as SeaTac reaches its full capacity within the next 20 years, Paine Field is but one existing airport being reviewed for expansion. Another in Snohomish County is Arlington Airport.

The Paine Field Master Plan is expected to be completed in the spring of 2023. The plan will need approval from the Federal Aviation Administration and the Snohomish County Council. Other than the airport forecast chapter public comment period through November 24th, there will be other opportunities for public feedback as the Master Plan continues its development.

North Sound Meteorologist Ted Buehner worked more than 40 years for the National Weather Service (NWS) from 1977 to 2018. He is now an Everett Post Media team member. Together with Everett Post Weather Minute Podcasts, he provides morning and afternoon commute traffic and weather updates on both KRKO and KXA Radio, and sports reporting on KRKO.