Alaska Airlines will be the only airline with service from Paine Field in Everett as United Airlines looks to pull out of the airport altogether in October. Both airlines only began serving Paine Field in March 2019 and were forced to halt flights completely during June and July last year.
Paine Field has been known for a long time in the aviation community, thanks to Boeing’s presence at the airport. In the context of Boeing, the airport is often known as Everett and was where the 777X took its first flight a year and a half ago. Now, it will become an Alaska Airlines stronghold.
United says goodbye
When it first launched operations at Paine Field, United Airlines was operating up to 186 rotations a month, in other words, six daily rotations. The COVID-19 struck. In March and April, the number of outbound flights operated by the airline dropped to 100, and then 30. Finally, in June and July, all operations from the airport by United, and rival Alaska Airlines, were suspended.
When United returned to Paine Field in August 2020, it didn’t do so with as much oomph. The airline was operating one daily rotation most months, it that, and has been ever since. These flights have been heading to and from Denver.
Now it seems that even this is too much for the airline. According to aviation data experts Cirium, the airline has just four Paine Field flights scheduled in October for the 1st-4th of the month. According to schedule data, from October 5th, United Airlines will no longer be a Paine Field carrier.
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Alaska becomes the exclusive carrier
With the withdrawal of United Airlines from Paine Field, the already dominant carrier Alaska Airlines will become the only option for those wishing to travel to or from Paine Field by aircraft. Before the pandemic, Alaska Airlines was regularly responsible for 75-78% of the market share in Paine Field. Since October 2020, this has become 81-87%, except for February 2021, when it fell to 75% briefly.
It seems unlikely that Alaska will back out of the airport any time soon. At its height, it offered 558 monthly flights from the airport, equating to 18 daily rotations. Last month the impact of the pandemic is still present with only 150 flights, or five daily flights.
However, the airline plans to restore its full pre-pandemic Paine Field schedule by spring 2022 at the latest. In addition, it will add a new route to Tuscon from November 19th. In early June, the airline’s VP of Network and Alliances, Brett Catlin, said,
“It has definitely been a difficult stretch, but our commitment to Paine Field never wavered. Our guests love the convenience of the airport. Next year, as we continue to offer additional flights, we’ll be in a position to resume our full allotment of 18 departures every day to the places our guests want to fly to the most.”
What do you make of United Airlines’ decision to leave Paine Field? Let us know what you think and why in the comments below!