PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Nine months after Colgan Air petitioned the Department of Transportation to end its service between Boston and Presque Isle, a new airline is handling flights out of Aroostook County.
Pen Air, one of Alaska’s largest regional airlines, began service at Northern Maine Regional Airport on Thursday. It offers flights from Presque Isle to Boston’s Logan International Airport.
The inaugural flight departed Boston and landed in Presque Isle at 7:30 p.m.
Nonstop flights began Friday with three flights per day, Monday through Friday and two flights each Saturday and Sunday.
The Central Aroostook Chamber of Commerce hosted a ribbon cutting at the Presque Isle airport on Thursday to celebrate the event.
The former carrier, Colgan Air, petitioned the Department of Transportation last September to stop operating under the Essential Air Service program in Presque Isle.
Colgan Air expressed a desire to close its Boston office because the market that it serves has become smaller.
The Department of Transportation’s Essential Air Service program, established in 1978 during the period of airline deregulation, provides federal assistance to air carriers serving smaller communities that otherwise might lose service because of economic factors.
Under EAS regulations, Colgan Air was not to be allowed to leave until a replacement could be found.
PenAir will service Presque Isle year-round and provide additional service to Bar Harbor in the summer, as that community also was affected by Colgan’s decision.
PenAir is using 34-seat aircrafts.
PenAir’s Chief Operating Officer Dave Hall was excited for the new business opportunity.
“Our day has come for PenAir to be a common sight in the Aroostook area,” he said in a statement. “We invite all our new customers to be a regular on our flight. Whether you are from Presque Isle, Caribou or communities throughout New Brunswick, Canada, we are excited to start this new venture with all of you,” said Hall.
An introductory fare of $115.30 (inclusive of tax) each way will be available on penair.com or by calling central reservations at 800-448-4226. Seats are limited and travel is good from June 15-June 28, 2012.