SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. — After a 71-day closure, the passenger terminal at Everett's Paine Field will reopen Saturday.
Just a few weeks before the decision was made to close, the one-year-old airport marked its one-millionth passenger.
The coronavirus pandemic then cut the number of passengers to barely a dozen a day, forcing it to shut down.
"It's been difficult. It was a necessary thing to do, but we are very excited to get back," said airport owner Brett Smith.
When passengers return they will be required to wear masks, and have their temperatures checked.
If someone has a fever a computer will alert airport security who will determine if that person is safe to fly.
The biggest change will be that only ticketed passengers will be allowed inside the building unless they're assisting someone who can't enter on their own.
Part of the past two-and-a-half months have been spent improving the terminal's air filtration system to hospital-grade — using what are called HEPA filters.
"We’re trying to make this the safest environment we can for our passengers," Smith said.
Smith said he would feel safe flying right now, despite the coronavirus surge throughout the country.
"Absolutely. I would. Especially all our planes out here right now are A175s, they're all new aircraft. They're all using HEPA filters and the air is exchanged throughout the whole aircraft within two minutes," he said. "Is it safer than going to a supermarket? Probably. It's definitely safer than being in a hospital."
For now, the only flights out of Everett are going to Las Vegas, Denver and Phoenix. Just three daily flights, down from 24 before COVID-19.
Smith says the airport expects to lose millions of dollars over the next year.
"If it goes beyond that you're probably getting into the $10 million range but we're prepared to do that if we have to."
Smith remains confident the airport will weather the storm even though the facility hasn't received a single cent in federal relief. Relief calculations were based upon the previous year's earnings and the airport wasn't even a year old when coronavirus hit.
The facility supports 300 jobs and has managed to get by this far without laying off a single employee.
Investors are shouldering the financial burden.
Smith has stopped taking a salary.
He's hoping for fair skies and tailwinds ahead.
"We look forward to this being past us sooner rather than later, but we're gonna be here."