Traffic up 37 percent at Bangor airport

CAPTION

Travelers leave the Bangor International Airport Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2010.  Millions of people throughout the country travel to see family on the day before Thanksgiving, which is said to be one of the year's busiest travel days. (Bangor Daily News/Gabor Degre)    (WEB EDITION PHOTO)
CAPTION Travelers leave the Bangor International Airport Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2010. Millions of people throughout the country travel to see family on the day before Thanksgiving, which is said to be one of the year's busiest travel days. (Bangor Daily News/Gabor Degre) (WEB EDITION PHOTO)
Posted Dec. 20, 2010, at 1:45 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine— Increased capacity by two airline carriers contributed to the best November in five years at Bangor International Airport, with passenger traffic up 37 percent over the same month last year, BIA said Monday.

The local market seems to have responded to recent added capacity by US Airways and Allegiant. November was the third consecutive month in which BIA has seen gains, pushing the annual passenger increase to 3 percent, BIA said.

US Airways picked up the most passengers, with an increase of 61 percent this November over last year, followed closely by Delta Air Lines (59 percent) and Allegiant (38 percent). The Delta increase is somewhat inflated because it reflects the airline’s merger with Northwest Airlines.

US Airways still has some room for growth, based on its 69 percent load factor, a measure of how full a plane is. By comparison, Delta’s load factor was 83 percent and Allegiant’s was 90 percent.

“Our increase in passenger traffic goes hand in hand with our capacity increases, showing the strong demand for air service in the region,” Airport Director Rebecca Hupp said. “This is good news to tell our airlines and supports our ongoing discussions with current and potential airline partners.”

Recently, BIA was awarded a $500,000 federal grant that could help add service by United Airlines to a major hub in Washington, D.C., or Chicago. United has not operated at BIA in several years.

Under provisions in the award — one of 19 selected under the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Small Community Air Service Development Program — the grant can be used to reduce an airline’s risk in entering a new market. Funds also can be used for marketing and advertising to support the service.

BIA used a similar grant awarded in 2005 to add Allegiant service to Sanford, Fla., near Orlando. Since Allegiant came to Bangor in 2007, the carrier has been successful and has expanded its offerings to St. Petersburg, Fla., and has added flights.

The latest grant provides what is known as a minimum revenue guarantee for United Airlines to provide air service using regional jet aircraft between BIA and Chicago O’Hare International Airport or Washington Dulles International Airport.

A minimum revenue guarantee is money that is set aside to reduce an airline’s risk in entering a new market. If revenues do not cover operating expenses, the airline will use the funds from the minimum revenue guarantee to make up the difference.

Nationwide, major airlines also posted strong numbers in November, although not quite as strong as BIA’s. Delta was up 7.5 percent, US Airways 7.8 percent and United Airlines 4.8 percent over the previous year.

BIA offers year-round nonstop flights to Detroit, New York, Orlando-Sanford, Philadelphia and Tampa-St. Petersburg and seasonal flights to Washington, D.C.

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