By Alwyn Scott
SEATTLE (Reuters) - Alaska Air Group said on Wednesday it plans to begin scheduled flights from a second Seattle-area airport next year, giving it exclusive access to a growing part of the Pacific Northwest's Puget Sound region.
Alaska Air's plan to fly Boeing Co 737 and Embraer 175 jets from Paine Field in Everett, Washington, starting in the fall of 2018 marks the first commercial service from the airfield, located 31 miles north of Seattle.
Alaska plans to provide nine daily flights from the airfield, which is adjacent to Boeing's widebody aircraft factory. Alaska has not yet specified the destinations.
"As our region continues to grow at a record pace and Sea-Tac Airport nears capacity, the time is right to bring air service to ... the North Sound," Alaska Airlines Chief Executive Brad Tilden said in a statement.
The move will relieve the carrier's dependence on Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, which is not expected to add capacity for 10 years, Brett Smith, chief executive of Propeller Airports, which is building the terminal at Paine Field, told Reuters.
Sea-Tac, located 17 miles south of Seattle, handled 45.7 million passengers last year, making it the ninth busiest in the United States, according to the Port of Seattle website.
Propeller plans to break ground in June on a two-gate, 30,000 square-foot terminal for Alaska, Smith said.
Other airlines are expected to eventually join Alaska in operating commercial flights from the new terminal, but Smith added that Paine Field will not grow to become "Sea-Tac North."
(Reporting by Alwyn Scott, editing by G Crosse)