The FAA has officially given its blessing to passenger air service at Everett's Paine Field, clearing the way for commercial flights out of Snohomish County.
In an official "Finding of No Significant Impact," the FAA reiterated its previous findings that commercial air service would not significantly increase noise, traffic, or pollution in the area.
Las Vegas-based Allegiant Air plans to fly about 20 flights a day out of Paine Field.
An environmental review in September found that adding 23 commercial flights a day by 2018 would also not significantly increase noise, traffic, or air pollution.
The airline currently flies from a number of Washington cities, including Bellingham, with connecting flights to such warm weather destinations as Honolulu, Maui, and Phoenix.
"The City of Everett has been on record supporting commercial air at Paine Field for many years now," Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson said in a statement. "The FAA has completed its effort, and by all indication, the impacts of commercial air appear to be minimal. Commercial air is necessary for economic development and job growth. Hopefully we'll soon be working with a company to provide commercial air at Paine Field."
The decision comes after years of sometimes bitter debate. Allegiant and Horizon sought permission back in 2008 to fly from the Snohomish County-owned airport. Many neighbors have opposed the move, arguing it would bring significant noise, traffic an pollution to the area, impacting quality of life and driving down home prices.
"Mukilteo city is gonna be a mess," U.C. Shin, owner of Z's Burgers in Mukilteo, told KING 5. "You add one airline here, and a few flights there, and before you know it, it's out of control."
Commercial air service out of Paine Field is not likely to begin for at least a year, following improvements to the airport needed to accommodate passenger flights.
In response to the findings, Alaska Airlines said if a competitor begins service at Paine Field, it will add flights at Sea-Tac using a Bombardier Q400 turboprop and Boeing 737 jet.
Horizon Air had been interested in adding six daily flights out of Everett about four years ago, but Alaska said the business climate has changed since then and conditions at Sea-Tac have dramatically changed with the addition of a third runway, new rental car facility, and light-rail service.