Continental departs BIA for good

Posted Aug. 04, 2009, at 11:40 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Continental Airlines officially pulled out of Bangor International Airport on July 31 despite efforts to keep the carrier in the city.

Assistant Airport Director Tony Caruso said Tuesday that the twice-daily Bangor-to-Newark, N.J., flights will be missed.

“Newark was a big hub for us,” he said. “As always, we’re working with our existing carriers and new ones to fill that void.”

Continental announced in May that it would stop flights from Newark to Bangor mainly for financial reasons but also because of airspace congestion in the New York City area. In addition to BIA, Continental cut service to three other regional airports and reduced flights at eight others.

The initial pullout date at BIA was June 21, but Continental extended the deadline to July 31 in hopes that talks could continue on how to keep the carrier. Caruso, however, said Continental maintained that problems in Newark were too great and too costly to keep service to Bangor.

A spokesman for Continental’s corporate office in Houston did not return a call Tuesday.

Through its Continental Express carrier service, Continental Airlines has operated direct flights to and from Bangor and Newark since 2005, and the airline accounted 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 reported 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.

Continental employed only one person directly in Bangor and that position was eliminated.

The departure of Continental leaves BIA with four active carriers: Delta Air Lines, Northwest Airlines, US Airways and Allegiant Air.

Over the last few months, the airport has seen a steady increase in passengers, aided in part by extra flights by both Continental and Allegiant Air, which offers nonstop flights to Sanford, Fla., near Orlando.

erussell@bangordailynews.net

990-8167

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