Kaplan Kirsch & Rockwell has represented Snohomish County, Washington, in suburban Seattle for more than a decade on airport regulatory, noise, and development issues. In the mid-2000s—when the County was approached by an airline about building a new passenger terminal for the introduction of passenger airline service—the Firm represented Snohomish County in the preparation of federal environmental documentation (and later in assisting with the successful defense of the Environmental Assessment in federal court) and in its negotiations with carriers for introduction of commercial service. We led the County’s negotiations with Propeller Airports in their proposal for a public-private partnership for the development, construction, financing, and operation of the new passenger terminal. After those successful negotiations—and at the requests of the County and Propeller Airports—the Firm represented Propeller Airports in its successful negotiations among carriers and other terminal service providers and with securing necessary federal approvals for the new terminal. The terminal opened in March 2019, with 24 flights from two carriers to destinations throughout the western United States. The entire terminal was fully subscribed at opening day.
The Paine Field Terminal is the first effort by an airport proprietor to contract for a privately designed, built, financed, operated, and maintained passenger terminal within the United States. While there are other national, privately developed terminals, Snohomish County is the first to contract with the private sector to provide the commercial passenger function for an entire airport.