Bangor International Airport has been issued a license allowing it to provide refueling and other services to foreign flights to and from Cuba, according to an announcement by Sen. Susan Collins on Monday.
Collins, chairman of the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee, announced that the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control issued the license to the Bangor airport, according to a press release. Collins wrote to the Office of Foreign Assets Control and the State Department in support of Bangor International Airport’s application for this license, and she has authored legislation to allow U.S. airports to serve as transit stops.
“Under the travel ban, foreign air carriers traveling to or from Cuba were prevented from refueling and receiving services at U.S. airports, forcing many to bypass airports like the Bangor International Airport and choose Canadian airports instead,” said Collins. “I have long advocated that the U.S. permit these non-traffic transit stops, and I am delighted that the Treasury Department has finally issued this license, which will allow the Bangor [International] Airport to compete for airlines’ business and help create jobs in eastern Maine.”
Bangor airport director Tony Caruso welcomed the news.
“Bangor is very excited to hear that our license has been approved to handle Cuba flights on a technical stop basis. This will allow us to compete on a fair and level playing field with Canadian airports,” said Caruso. “This traffic will result in added business for the airport. We want to thank Sen. Collins and the rest of Maine’s congressional delegation for their efforts and support.”
During these transit stops, passengers do not disembark the plane and no new passengers board the aircraft. Yet, these stops are valuable for airports and their employees who can offer fuel, de-icing, catering and crew services. By not permitting transit stops, the U.S. was out of compliance with several international transportation agreements, including the Chicago Convention and the U.S.-EU Open Skies Agreement. Permitting these stops would not result in any incremental benefits to Cuba because these flights currently make transit stops in Canada.
Reps. Chellie Pingree and Bruce Poliquin introduced a bill earlier this year that would allow U.S. airports to compete for business involving Cuban flights.