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Paine Field Airport in Everett to see travel increase 400% by 2040, report says

According to pre-pandemic trends, Paine Field Airport could see more than four million passengers a year by 2040.

EVERETT, Wash. — There could be big changes coming to Everett's Paine Field as the airport prepares for an increase in passenger travel in the next two decades.

In a forecast paid for by Snohomish County, exerts predict demand for travel could quadruple by 2040. That would mean a little more than four million passengers a year. 

The prediction is in part due to the increase in demand for the Puget Sound area as a whole, but also because of the capacity limits that Sea-Tac International Airport is already facing. 

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In a virtual public meeting held in early November, the Snohomish County-owned airport hired an outside firm to announce the draft of a new long-term plan to meet the demand. 

Often referred to as a Master Plan, the draft will take into consideration public comment, as well as comments from key stakeholders, and will inventory current facilities like cargo space, private and commercial capabilities, terminal access and taxiways to see where there's room to expand.

"We know that over time there will not be a need for any additional runways. We do know the airport field system will need to be improved from an operational standpoint," said Michael Tubridy, vice president of Master Planning at Landrum & Brow. 

Some areas like runways will not face expansion while others like public transportation to the terminal and de-icing equipment will be included to meet demand. 

While the airport is on Snohomish County land, the terminal, which sees 24 flights a day, is operated by the private company Propeller. 

In a phone call with KING 5, Propeller CEO Brett Smith said expansion is a good thing as it brings jobs and growth to the region, but he reiterated that these forecasts and predictions are based on pre-pandemic passenger data and that initial plans will take years to develop.

Meanwhile, the immediate next steps are to develop alternative evaluation criteria to measure each part of the plan against its feasibility and sustainability. 

Any plans will need to be approved by the Federal Aviation Administration and the Snohomish County Council before being implemented. 

Another public comment period is expected in early 2022.