Airline delays its exit from BIA

Posted May 26, 2009, at 7:53 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Continental Airlines, which announced last week that it was stopping its twice-daily flights from Bangor International Airport to Newark, N.J., effective June 21, has extended the deadline to the end of July.

BIA Director Rebecca Hupp said Tuesday that Continental will continue its operations in Bangor until July 31 and that the airport will continue to work to keep Continental here in some fashion beyond that date.

“Continental’s reconsideration regarding Bangor-Newark service just a few days after their announcement last week indicates just how volatile the industry is right now,” Hupp said in a statement. “In general, the overall cuts in service are indicative of bigger problems in Newark. Continental’s service for Bangor through July 31 gives our passengers service for now but is no guarantee of continued service.”

On Thursday, Continental announced that it would stop service at BIA and three additional regional airports around the country and would reduce service at eight other airports. The reason for the cutbacks was largely financial but also airspace congestion in the New York area, Continental spokeswoman Mary Clark said last week.

Clark did not have any additional information on the deadline extension when reached by phone Tuesday.

Through its Continental Express carrier service, Continental Airlines has operated direct flights to and from Bangor and Newark since 2005 and accounts for 14 percent of BIA’s market share. Within the past 12 months, Continental carried 47,000 passengers with an average load factor — a measure of how full a plane is — of 74 percent on 50-passenger planes. However, the airline has had load factors as high as 90 percent at BIA and had increased service from one flight a day to two flights a day in the past year.

Clark said last week that customers who had bought tickets for flights after June 21 could get a refund or make other travel arrangements.

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