Government shutdown forces Alaska Airlines to delay Paine Field flights

EVERETT, Wash. -- Alaska Airlines on Tuesday said it made the "tough decision" to postpone the launch of new commercial flights from Everett's Paine Field.

The Seattle-based airline said several groups within the Federal Aviation Administration are furloughed because of the government shutdown. That means Paine Field won't be able to get "crucial certification and oversight work required for the start of commercial air service.

Alaska had already started selling 18 daily flights between Paine Field and eight West Coast cities.

The airline said guests who booked travel between Feb. 11 and March 4 will receive an email notification. Those passengers will be automatically re-booked on flights from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport at no charge.

Alaska wrote in a blog post that passengers could also cancel or change their flights at no cost.

“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. “There are certain things that are simply out of our control. We apologize if your travel plans need to change. But we remain eager and committed to giving you – our loyal guests – a much-needed airport alternative north of Seattle, and a great experience.”

The airline hopes to begin service soon, but said another delay beyond March 4 is possible if the shutdown continues.

Alaska's all-jet service will be provided by Horizon Air flying the Embraer 175. On the E175, every seat is either a window or an aisle – there are no middle seats.

Destinations include Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Orange County, Calif., Phoenix, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco, and San Jose.

United Airlines has also announced planned to begin flights to and from Paine Field, but their service isn't scheduled to begin until March 31, 2019.

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