Just when the folks at Bangor International Airport were about to announce that a new low-cost airline would offer two trips a week
from the Queen City to Orlando, American Airlines displays typical airline bad form by saying it's pulling out of BIA
While I've never been able to score much of a deal on airfare out of Bangor, for people living in the northern and eastern halves of the state the daily flights to Boston and LaGuardia were a valuable connection to the rest of the world. Far more problematic than having to drive down to Portland, though, is the fact that eighty-nine people in Bangor will lose their jobs as a result of American Airlines' decision.
Traffic at BIA has been atrophying in recent years, with the airport recently reporting that it's down 5 percent
already this year. Delta has pulled its bigger planes from northern Maine, and today's announcements don't lend me to believe that there's going to be any good news coming from the airport anytime soon.
Meanwhile, traffic in Portland is booming, with JetBlue and AirTran both opening up new destinations for people traveling from the Forest City. It seems that the disparity that now exists between Maine's two largest airports begs for a step back and a look at the larger picture of air travel in the Pine Tree State. First, do we need a major airport in northern Maine? I'd argue that we do, unless we want to turn everything north of, say, Bucksport into some sort of frontier territory. But if we accept that the economic vitality of northern Maine depends upon our ability to get people there quickly and, perhaps more importantly, inexpensively, then how do we convince airlines that it's worth venturing north of Portland? It seems to me that this is an issue that will impact people far beyond Bangor and therefore ought to be looked at on a state level. Perhaps if the airports in Portland and Bangor could come up with more of a collaborative plan that shared marketing, operations, and flights, people in Millinocket could enjoy a mid-winter escape to Disneyworld just as easily as the folks living south of the Volvo line.
JOSHUA F. MOORE
Deputy Editor, constant searcher of low fares and easy parking