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September 1, 2022

Maine airport chiefs bullish on Labor Day weekend, fall travel outlook

Side by side portraits File photos From left, Portland International Jetport Airport Director Paul Bradbury and his counterpart at Bangor International Airport, Tony Caruso.

After a busy summer for air travel, the heads of Maine's two biggest airports are expecting momentum to stay strong this Labor Day weekend and beyond. 

Paul Bradbury, airport director at the Portland International Jetport, said that facility has had a "very good summer," with both June and July passenger levels exceeding pre-pandemic levels by 0.4% and 1.4%, respectively.

"August data isn't compiled yet but we are trending with July and I expect to exceed 2019 levels," he told Mainebiz.

Bradbury also reported a 5.5% increase in the number of seats for sale out of the Jetport compared to September 2019, "so this is a good sign that traffic will be over 2019 levels in September as well.

"I expect this Labor Day weekend will mirror the September capacity increase and we will be up roughly 5.5% over 2019," he predicted.

Meanwhile in the Queen City, Bangor International Airport Director Tony Caruso said that Labor Day travel can be difficult to anticipate because school is back in session for many and Maine is still a few weeks away from peak foliage season.

"However," he said, "we have continued to see strong passenger numbers throughout the summer and would expect to see the same for the upcoming Labor Day weekend, as well as through the fall foliage season."

For year-round residents of Vacationland, there's not much incentive to travel. Among more than 200 Mainebiz readers who answered a poll this week, only 31% said they plan to travel this Labor Day weekend while 69% said they intend to stay put.

While the Maine Department of Transportation doesn't issue traffic projections, historical data shows high northbound volumes on the I-95 corridor in Kittery on the Friday before Labor Day between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m., while southbound traffic is typically higher on Sunday as people leave the state after summer's traditional last hurrah.

Traffic also tends to be heavy on Labor Day itself between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., Maine DOT statistics show.

Highway sign: It's not a race, leave some space
Courtesy / Maine Department of Transportation
Drives on Maine highways this weekend will encounter a fresh batch of road safety messages, including this one.

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