FedEx reportedly in talks to take over Dreamlifter center
EVERETT —The Boeing Co. is reportedly in talks with FedEx to sublet the Dreamlifter facility at Paine Field, which Boeing leases from the Snohomish County Airport.
“Boeing is about to finalize an agreement to transfer the lease of its Dreamlifter Operations Center … to air cargo carrier FedEx, according to a document reviewed by the Seattle Times that describes the terms of the discussion,” the newspaper reported Monday.
When contacted on Tuesday, major parties were not speaking, but Paine Field airport officials said they had not received a lease transfer request, which would be subject to review. The county-owned airport owns the Dreamlifter building, which is located just south of the Boeing Future of Flight Aviation center on the Mukilteo side of the airport.
The Dreamlifter Center opened in 2013. Snohomish County is bearing the $ 30 million cost of the facility. But the main operations were transferred to the Boeing assembly plant in South Carolina in 2018. The Paine Field facility includes three stalls for large planes, 25,000 square feet of warehouse space, 10,000 square feet of office space and an in-flight refueling station.
“If Boeing requests an assignment of their lease, the county has a process to consider its proposal,” airport manager Arif Ghouse said on Tuesday. “No alternative to this lease has been presented to Paine Field.”
Any air cargo operation at Everett Airport would require approval from federal regulators, which could involve an environmental review – as was necessary before commercial passenger service was permitted, the Federal Aviation Administration said.
The FAA Certificate Management Office in Tennessee has not received a request from FedEx regarding the operation at Paine Field, the agency said on Tuesday.
Boeing declined to comment on the Dreamlifter operations center on Tuesday, but said it was engaged in the Puget Sound area. “We have a larger workforce and operational footprint here than anywhere else in the world, and we’ve spent billions of dollars investing in long-term infrastructure, development programs and our people,” says a press release from the company.
“FedEx is constantly evaluating opportunities that can improve our ability to serve our customers. In accordance with company policy, we do not comment on details of projects until all aspects have been finalized, ”a company statement read.
The Dreamlifter’s primary use was to transport Boeing 787 aircraft components. But operations at the Dreamlifter center have cooled significantly since Boeing moved all production of the Model 787 to the company’s assembly plant in Carolina. South in March.
When 787 models were built in Everett’s huge assembly plant, local residents said it was normal to hear thunderous Dreamlifters coming and going two or more times a day. Now the specially modified 747-400s land three times a month at Paine Field to deliver the front end of the 767 from Spirit AeroSystems to Wichita, Kansas, the company said.
The Times report said the lease negotiation document “indicates the transfer should be completed this summer, although FedEx has told Boeing it will take time after the lease is transferred for its freight flights to be operational. . To soften the deal, even though FedEx should have taken over the lease before November 1, Boeing agreed to post a $ 1.8 million bond on that date as part of the annual rent. ”
Ghouse, the director of Paine Field, said that Paine Field, “a center for the global aerospace industry … will continue to support the appropriate aerospace and aviation uses of airport properties.”
“As a public facility, we will always be working to provide jobs and economic benefits to the community,” Ghouse said.
Using the hangar as a potential FedEx delivery center raises the specter of increased noise, traffic volume and congestion around Everett Airport.
Michael Moore, president of Save our Communities, a citizens’ group that opposed commercial air passenger services at the airport, said the potential of air cargo operations is another disappointing development that could result in ” noisy air cargo which usually fly late at night or early at night. in the morning, ”Moore said in an email.
Mukilteo Mayor Jennifer Gregerson on Tuesday expressed concern about noise levels at the possible FedEx facility.
“I am disappointed,” she said. “If there are overnight freight operations, this can be the most impactful noise.”
Gregerson said she hoped the county would be able to work with FedEx to avoid those late-night noises.
Paine Field operates approximately 300 daily flights, including passenger flights to the new Everett terminal, private aviation, Boeing test and delivery flights, and aircraft to repair and maintenance of technical services aviation.
Alaska and United Airlines currently operate seven daily flights from Everett, but the terminal operator hopes to see a return to 2019 levels of 24 daily flights.
FedEx fleet, which includes nearly 700 aircraft, includes the Boeing 767s and Airbus A300s, wide-body cargo ships that are much larger than the single-aisle, 75-seat Embraer E175 passenger planes currently flown by Alaska and United.
FedEx currently conducts regional freight operations out of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, where it “operates an average of seven flights a day to and from this airport, with fewer on weekends,” said the Sea-Tac spokesperson Perry Cooper at the Seattle Times.
The potential arrival of the freight carrier at Paine Field raised some questions: Could FedEx move its regional operation to Paine Field, freeing up space for more passenger flights to Sea-Tac, which before the COVID-pandemic- 19, approaching capacity?
Demand for air travel and air cargo in the Puget Sound region is expected to increase and exceed Sea-Tac capacity by 2027, analysts have reported. The need for air cargo capacity is expected to increase to 1.3 million tonnes by 2050, more than double current levels.
Projections for passenger “boardings” – the number of people departing on a scheduled flight – are also expected to more than double over the next 30 years, from 24 million in 2018 to over 50 million in 2050.
Paine Field has compiled a short list of airports that officials in Washington are considering for future expansion to meet growing demand for air travel and air cargo.
A state commission has named the Snohomish County-owned airport as one of six potential candidates for air service expansion, alongside Arlington Municipal Airport, Bremerton National Airport, from Sanderson Field to Shelton, from Tacoma Narrows Airport to Gig Harbor and from Ed Carlson Memorial Field in County Lewis.
Janice Podsada; [email protected]; 425-339-3097; Twitter: JanicePods.
Herald writer Ellen Dennis contributed to this report.