PORTLAND, Maine — Maine’s U.S. Reps. Bruce Poliquin and Chellie Pingree have introduced a bill in Congress to allow planes bound for Cuba to stop and refuel at U.S. airports, such as Bangor International Airport.
In a joint statement, Maine’s two U.S. representatives said Bangor’s airport loses out on refueling and restocking an estimated 200 flights originating from other countries and bound for Cuba each year.
“Thousands of tourists are passing over the United States on their way to Cuba every day, and if they have to stop somewhere, why not let it be Bangor?” Pingree said in a news release.
Both lawmakers called the policy preventing such “technical stops” at U.S. airports “outdated.” Poliquin said that flights that might otherwise choose to stop in Bangor or other East Coast airports are landing instead at Canadian airports.
“In many cases, airlines would prefer to use American airports for these stops, but are restricted because of current rules,” Poliquin said.
In their statement, they added that airlines tend to prefer using the same airport for their technical stops and many have moved those stops to airports in Canada.
The representatives said the bill would not make any change to the status of the trade embargo with Cuba and would not allow passengers destined for Cuba to clear immigration or legally depart from the U.S.
The bill on Wednesday was given the number H.R. 5071.