Alaska Airline’s new Paine Field flights delayed by shutdown won’t affect Sea-Tac

By Jack Mayne

The Puget Sound Business Journal reported on Tuesday that Alaska Airlines is delaying the launch because of the government shutdown, but Port of Seattle spokesman Perry Cooper said it won’t affect Seattle-Tacoma International Airport even though it is having its own problems with the government shutdown,

Cooper lauded its federal Sea-Tac flight controllers for continuing to work without pay and keeping service as usual. There are no control tower manning problems, he said, although many area residents are donating food and supplies to help the unpaid controllers.

Delay at Paine
“We’re postponing our scheduled start of service from Paine Field until March 4, 2019,” Alaska said on its blog. “Our latest post has all the details.”

Paine Field changes will have no effect on Sea-Tac because Alaska is not moving flights from SeaTac, only using the new facility for new and additional flight schedules.

The Business Journal said that flights Alaska had planned to launch on Feb. 11 are now delayed to at least March 4.

“It’s a tough decision, but we believe the responsible action is to postpone the start of service at Paine Field,” the airline stated on its blog, adding that this is subject to receipt of all required government approvals and that if the shutdown continues, the airline could be forced to delay the launch a second time.

“We know our guests who purchased tickets to and from Paine Field will be disappointed by this delay – so are we,” said Andrew Harrison, Alaska Airlines’ chief commercial officer, in the Business Journal. “There are certain things that are simply out of our control.”

Travelers with tickets between Feb. 11 and March 4 will get an email notification from Alaska Airlines that they’re automatically being confirmed on a new flight on the same date from Sea-Tac Airport. No change fees will be assessed, the Business Journal reported.

The new departure time at Sea-Tac will be the closest one to their original Paine Field flight, the airline said, adding that Federal Aviation Administration workers perform key certification and oversight work before airlines can launch passenger service at any airport. Several of those employees are currently furloughed because of the government shutdown. Paine Field also required a supplemental environmental assessment prior to the FAA officially approving flights by Alaska and United Airlines.

“We’re still moving forward to prepare for operations at Paine Field, including hiring and training our employees …,” the airline said. “And we’ll continue to work closely with the FAA as it completes its environmental assessment and other needed approvals.”

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