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Government shutdown delays passenger flights at Seattle's alternative airport

Government shutdown delays passenger flights at Seattle's alternative airport
A Boeing KC-46 tanker for the U.S. Air Force takes off from Paine Field in Everett, Wash., in April 2018. Opening of the airport for commercial flights has been delayed because of the partial government shutdown. (Marian Lockhart / Boeing)

Alaska Airlines planned to start commercial service at Seattle’s alternative airport on Feb. 11. Now operations at the small airport in Everett, Wash., have stalled because the workers needed to complete FAA requirements have been furloughed.

“Several key groups within the Federal Aviation Administration, which conduct crucial certification and oversight work required for the start of commercial air service at Paine Field, are subject to furloughs because of the government shutdown,” the airline announced in a blog post Tuesday.

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Paine Field, about 30 miles north of Seattle in Snohomish County, is a small private-public airport positioning itself as an alternative to busy Sea-Tac International Airport. Alaska and United were the first two airlines to sign on.

Now Alaska is telling passengers who were supposed to fly between Feb. 11 and March 4 that they will be automatically booked on a Sea-Tac flight as close to their original flight times as possible.

Customers also may rebook their flights for a different date without penalty, or ask for a refund by calling (800) 252-7522.

Alaska’s service is expected to start March 4 for selected flights, with service to L.A. starting March 5 and to Orange County starting March 12.

Paine Field also will serve airports in Denver, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Portland, Ore., San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose.

United Airlines service set to connect with hubs in Denver and San Francisco will begin March 31.

The partial government shutdown, which began Dec. 22, has affected other airline operations. Southwest Airlines earlier this month announced a delay for its California-Hawaii service because it could not complete long-haul certification while FAA workers were furloughed.

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