Passenger counts, travel routes expand at BIA

Posted March 31, 2012, at 10 a.m.
Passengers board a regional jet at Bangor International Airport.
Passengers board a regional jet at Bangor International Airport.
The first passengers to arrive at Bangor International Airport on the inaugural Allegiant Airlines flight from Fort Lauderdale, Fla. enter depart the secure passenger area inside the BIA domestic terminal on Nov. 17, 2011.
Brian Swartz
The first passengers to arrive at Bangor International Airport on the inaugural Allegiant Airlines flight from Fort Lauderdale, Fla. enter depart the secure passenger area inside the BIA domestic terminal on Nov. 17, 2011.

After Anthony Caruso replaced Rebecca Hupp at the Bangor International Airport helm on March 17, passengers noticed no change in airport operations.

In fact, travel choices are increasing at BIA, which saw its passenger count increase 11 percent in 2011.

The BIA director since December 2001, Hupp announced on Friday, Jan. 20 that she had accepted a po-sition as director at Boise Airport in Boise, Idaho, effective April 2. Caruso, who has served as BIA’s assis-tant director for almost a decade, was named BIA’s interim director effective Saturday, March 17.

“Tony has been the assistant director for almost 10 years and has filled in during the director’s absences,” Bangor City Manager Catherine Conlow said while announcing Caruso’s appointment in early February. “I am confident he will lead the team … while we execute our search to fill the airport director position.”

With Canadian passengers helping to fill passenger seats, airlines are adding capacity at BIA. On Thurs-day, Nov. 17, 2011, Allegiant Air inaugurated direct, non-stop jet service between Bangor and Fort Lauder-dale, Fla.

Speaking shortly before Allegiant Flight 941 landed from Fort Lauderdale, Hupp said that BIA officials had worked with Allegiant “two to three years to develop this route.” Allegiant already flew similar non-stop flights from Bangor to Orlando/Sanford Airport and Tampa/St. Petersburg Airport.

According to Hupp, adding Fort Lauderdale made sense. “Florida is one of our top destinations,” she ex-plained. “Fort Lauderdale is always in our top 10 destinations. There is always a market for Fort Lauderdale; it is a popular cruise embarkation point” and destination for snowbirds.

Flying MD-80s, Allegiant offers two weekly Bangor-to-Fort Lauderdale flights. A third flight could possi-bly be added if passenger traffic increases.

On Sunday, March 25, US Airways inaugurated non-stop daily flights between BIA and Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C. Through its US Airways Express partner Air Wisconsin, the airline provided only weekend service between the two airports.

The new daily service utilizes 50-seat CRJ-200 regional jets to fly two outgoing and two incoming flights. The current BIA-Reagan National schedule is:

• Flight 3887 departs Bangor at 8:59 a.m. and lands in Washington at 11 a.m.;

• Flight 3884 leaves Washington at 10:05 a.m. and arrives in Bangor at 11:54 a.m.;

• Flight 3779 departs Bangor at 12:20 p.m. and lands in Washington at 2:18 p.m.;

• Flight 3806 leaves Washington at 10 p.m. and lands in Bangor at 11:45 p.m.

Effective March 25, US Airways also added a fourth daily roundtrip between BIA and Philadelphia Inter-national Airport. The flight leaves Philadelphia at 3:45 p.m., lands in Bangor at 5:21 p.m., leaves Bangor at 6:11 p.m., and lands in Philadelphia at 7:55 p.m.

The new Bangor-Washington connection should boost BIA traffic, which rose to more than 429,000 passengers in 2011. Of that number, December saw 31,282 passengers utilize BIA. January 2012 saw the airport’s passenger count rise 15.8 percent over January 2011.

“Really, the key driver is the load factor in terms of percentage of filled seats,” Caruso said. “I think cer-tainly these are some very pleasing numbers. Certainly the demand is there.”

Other changes recently taking place at BIA have included upgrades to passenger screening. On Jan. 25, the Transportation Security Agency unveiled a new advanced imaging technology scanner designed “to screen a passenger for any metallic or nonmetallic items that may be concealed underclothing,” Ann Davis told the BDN. She is the public affairs manager of the TSA’s Northeast Region.

“It’s safe, efficient, and it points out the necessity for passengers to divest themselves of everything that’s not paper or tissue,” Davis said.

At 4 feet in width and 9 feet in height, the scanner is similar in dimensions to advanced imaging scanners installed earlier in major American airport hubs. According to Davis, the scanner projects “a computer-generated, generic avatar of a human form that’s identical for every person.

“This is really the world’s best available technology to screen a passenger for any metallic or nonmetallic items that may be concealed under clothing,” she said.

This spring the Sargent Corp. will start rebuilding the general aviation apron, located outside the BIA general aviation terminal off Maine Avenue. The project will upgrade the apron’s underground-drainage system and ability to handle heavier aircraft. “Currently, we can handle aircraft weighing less than 100,000 pounds in that area,” Caruso told the BDN. “After this apron reconstruction, we can handle aircraft up to 150,000 pounds.”

The federal government will fund 90 percent of the $5 million project, with the Maine Department of Transportation paying 7.5 percent and Bangor paying 2.5 percent.

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