The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has approved commercial air service at Paine Field, Washington.
The record of decision (ROD) finds that proposed air service on Allegiant Air and Alaska Air Group-subsidiary Horizon Air would have a negligible environmental impact and recommends that the airport's operating certificate be modified to allow for the flights.
Airport operator Snohomish County would build a 2,728 square metre (29,350 square foot) modular terminal building with two gates to accommodate the commercial flights, according to the ROD.
The county says that it is checking with the carriers regarding their interest to serve Paine Field and, depending on their responses, will move forward on an environmental analysis under Washington's State Environmental Policy Act (Sepa). Finally, the county council must approve the plans before air service could begin.
Allegiant has previously proposed two weekly flights to Las Vegas on a Boeing MD-80 and Horizon four daily flights to Portland, Oregon, and two daily flights to Spokane, Washington, on a Bombardier Q400.
Allegiant says that it "remains interested" in flying to Paine, adding that the airport fits its business model.
"Alaska Airlines believes the Puget Sound region is best served by Seattle-Tacoma International airport," says Andrew Harrison, vice-president of planning and revenue management at Alaska, in a statement. "Adding commercial air service to a regional airport located 42 miles [67km] away from the state's largest airport - and an
hour's drive from Bellingham International airport - is not a good alternative for our region."
Paine Field is located about 32km north of the city of Seattle, about 67km north of Seattle-Tacoma and about 100km south of Bellingham International.
Harrison says that Alaska or Horizon would begin flights to Paine Field only if a competitor were to do so. Flights would be operated on a Boeing 737 or Q400.
Alaska adds that it would announce markets, which have changed due to changes in the economic environment since 2008, only when it decided to begin flights.
Allegiant and Horizon first proposed air service to Paine Field in 2008.