January 21, 2019
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Bar Harbor to lose its airline service right before busy season

Anthony Brino | BDN
Anthony Brino | BDN
Passengers at Northern Maine Regional Airport wait to board a Pen Air flight to Boston on Jan. 15, 2018.

An airline that lost a contract to serve the Presque Isle region will end its service at Bar Harbor Airport after its contract lapses in June.

Pen-Air was compelled to stop serving Bar Harbor because the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded to another airline a federally subsidized contract to serve Northern Maine Regional Airport on March 20. Pen-Air officials told Bar Harbor Airport Manager Bradley Madeira shortly after the decision that they couldn’t affordably serve Bar Harbor without the Presque Isle service.

That leaves the Trenton-based Hancock County airport little time to find another carrier for passengers for most of the summer — the busiest time for the airport and tourists who visit Mount Desert Island.

“July right now is potentially threatened just by the timing of it,” Madiera said Friday.

The airport has another airline, Cape Air, that flies to Boston and beyond.

Pen-Air had served Bar Harbor and Presque Isle since 2012. Airline spokeswoman Melissa Roberts said the loss of the Presque Isle service left her airline little choice.

“We’re very disappointed that we didn’t get to continue the service. We really prided ourselves on our community service and support,” Roberts said Friday. “I don’t think that you will get that service as strongly with other carriers. We truly called it home.”

Carriers typically need 60 to 90 days to set up service at an airport. That cuts it close for a new airline to replace Pen-Air on July 1, Medeira said.

“That’s not to say that a carrier won’t set up in 30 days,” Medeira said. “I don’t want to paint too much of a doomsday scenario, but if a carrier comes in and says they can do it in 90, then we have lost our entire season.”

Pen-Air averaged 6,882 passengers annually over the last three years.

Bids to replace Pen-Air at Bar Harbor are due on April 5.

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