BANGOR, Maine — Bangor International Airport is starting to feel the loss of one major carrier in 2009 and the consolidation of two others later that year.
After a strong 2009 overall and a good showing in the first few months of this year, BIA’s passenger numbers have dipped over the spring and summer months. For July 2010, the airport had 6.4 percent fewer passengers than during the same month in 2009.
For the year, numbers are down 2 percent.
“We have to remember that we’re comparing numbers from last July, which were higher than in years past,” BIA marketing director Risteen Masters said. “It’s hard to get a sense of what’s going on industrywide because some places say they’re up while others are down.”
Last July, Continental Airlines halted its twice-daily service from BIA to Newark, N.J., which represented about 14 percent of the airport’s market share. Later in the year, Delta Air Lines stopped its shuttle from Bangor to Boston, eliminating two daily 50-passenger flights. Northwest Airlines merged with Delta last year, as well.
BIA now relies on three airlines for all of its service. US Airways has the biggest market share at 44 percent, followed by Delta at 39 percent and Allegiant at 17 percent.
Another potential concern in Bangor is the lack of available seats. All three airlines posted high load factors (a measure of how full a plane is), which means unless BIA adds additional flights or bigger planes, growth will be nonexistent.
“It’s tough to improve our numbers if we don’t have as many seats,” Masters said.
Allegiant is perhaps the best example as this problem. The nonstop flights to Florida have been popular — passengers nearly doubled from 2008 to 2009 — but load factors have hovered around 85 percent.
Fares also play a big role. In May, US Airways reduced fares to more than half of the destinations offered through Bangor International Airport. The airline showed a 3.7 percent increase in passengers this July over last year.
Masters said airlines are the only ones that can change fares, not airports.
Passenger numbers at BIA peaked at about 480,000 in 2005 and then began gradually declining to about 350,000 in 2008, although the numbers began to rebound in 2009. Year-end statistics for 2009 showed that 372,061 passengers flew in and out of Bangor, a 6 percent increase over 2008.
Airport officials and City Council members will hear a market report from Mike Boyd, an airline industry consultant, on Wednesday night. Masters said BIA is continually looking for ways to add service.
BIA offers daily flights to Detroit, Philadelphia, New York, Orlando, Fla., and St. Petersburg, Fla., through its four main carriers. The airport is governed by the city of Bangor but is operated through an enterprise fund generated by its own revenues rather than taxpayer support.