Alaskan airline completes bid to bring service to Presque Isle, likely to focus on Hancock airport as well

By Jen Lynds, BDN Staff
Posted Dec. 13, 2011, at 1 p.m.

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — An Alaskan airline has completed plans to submit a bid to provide service to Northern Maine Regional Airport in Presque Isle and possibly Bar Harbor after a meeting on Monday evening with members of members of the state’s congressional delegation.

U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, said in a written statement that Peninsula Airways Inc., known as PenAir, will submit a bid next Tuesday to bring a 34-seat Saab 340 aircraft to the Presque Isle airport. It also is “likely” to bid on serving Hancock County-Bar Harbor Airport in Trenton under the Essential Air Services Program.

Snowe, a senior member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, met in her Washington, D.C., office with PenAir CEO Danny Seybert and airline President Scott Bloomquist.

U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud also met with the representatives in his office.

Officials from PenAir could not immediately be reached on Tuesday and the congressional offices did not offer an explanation about why it was only “likely” that the bid would include the Bar Harbor airport.

Colgan Air, which operates as U.S. Airways Express in the region, petitioned the U.S. Department of Transportation in September to end its service between Boston and Presque Isle and between Bar Harbor and Boston, sometime next year. Colgan Air expressed a desire to close its Boston office because the market that it serves has become smaller.

Under federal Essential Air Service regulations, the airline would not be allowed to leave until a replacement is found. But there has been 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.

According to PenAir’s website, the 56-year-old Anchorage-based company 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 called the company’s desire to bid “tremendous news,” adding that such flights are “a critical link to tourism, recreation, and business.”

Michaud said, “Given how important air service is to the local economies, it’s important that the carrier selected by the Department of Transportation is able to meet the needs of both communities. Each community has a lot to offer, and I am confident they will attract the bids necessary to ensure continued air service.”

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.

http://bangordailynews.com/2011/12/13/business/penair-finalizes-bid-to-service-presque-isle-airport/ printed on July 26, 2014