PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — An Alaska-based airline announced Friday evening its intentions to submit a bid to provide service to airports in Presque Isle and the Bar Harbor area that were threatened by a carrier’s decision to end flights to those sites earlier this year.
U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, a senior member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will be meeting with Peninsula Airways Inc. on Monday. Officials with the airline alerted Snowe that they intend to bid to provide service to Northern Maine Regional Airport in Presque Isle and to Hancock County-Bar Harbor Airport in Trenton under the Essential Air Service program. Colgan Air, which operates as U.S. Airways Express in the region, petitioned the U.S. Department of Transportation in September to end service between Boston and Presque Isle and between Bar Harbor and Boston, sometime next year. The decision resulted from Colgan’s desire to close its Boston office because the market that it serves has gotten smaller.
Under Essential Air Service regulations, the airline would not be allowed to leave until a replacement is found. But there has been some concern that smaller airplanes might be brought in to provide that service.
In Presque Isle and Bar Harbor, Colgan Air offers business and leisure air travelers nonstop service to and from Boston’s Logan Airport in a 34-seat Saab 340 turbo jet prop.
Snowe said Friday that the Alaskan airline is looking to deliver service with a 34-seat aircraft. Snowe and her staff will be meeting in her Washington, D.C., office with Peninsula’s CEO Danny Seybert and president Scott Bloomquist.
According to its website, the 56-year-old Anchorage-based PenAir is Alaska’s largest commuter airline.
Established in 1978, the Essential Air Service program provides federal assistance to air carriers serving smaller communities that otherwise might lose service because of economic factors.
Snowe said Friday she is looking forward to Monday’s meeting.
“It goes without saying the airline’s interest in providing service to the Presque Isle and Bar Harbor airports is certainly tremendous news,” said Snowe. “It is absolutely vital Maine’s rural communities like those surrounding Presque Isle and Bar Harbor are connected with an air service that is safe, cost effective, and convenient. These flights are a critical link to tourism, recreation, and business.”
Correction: An early version of this story requires correction. Hancock County-Bar Harbor Airport has never offered flights to Plattsburg, N.Y. It offers daily flights to Logan Airport in Boston.