In response to a request by Allegiant Air, the Federal Aviation Administration appears to be paving the way for the introduction of commercial airline service at Paine Field Airport near Everett, Wash., north of Seattle.

The FAA issued an environmental assessment in December and said it was prepared to give the go-ahead, on condition that Snohomish County, which operates the airport, builds an adequate passenger terminal. According to the FAA, the county has engaged design consultants to begin that process.

Allegiant made its initial inquiries to the airport in 2009, indicating it would begin with two weekly flights to Las Vegas.

Horizon Air, Alaska Airline’s regional subsidiary, followed up with an expression of interest, indicating it would operate six daily flights with regional aircraft to Portland and Spokane.

Just last week, Alaska said it has begun working with the FAA on the possible addition of Paine Field to its mainline operation, and submitted a hypothetical schedule that included daily flights to Las Vegas and a daily service to Hawaii, serving Honolulu four times weekly and Maui three.

Alaska said it would gradually add flights and destinations to a level of 49 weekly flights within five years.

Alaska said it was preparing a Paine Field plan mostly as a contingency in the event that other carriers begin service there.

Andrew Harrison, Alaska Airlines' vice president of planning and revenue management, said, "We continue to believe that our flights at Sea-Tac Airport and in Bellingham best serve the Puget Sound region's needs for affordable air travel, particularly in light of the significant investments both airports have made recently to improve their facilities. That said, if one or more other airlines begin operations at Paine Field, we would commence service alongside these carriers.”

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