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April 2, 2018

Pen-Air forced to quit Bar Harbor after losing Presque Isle contract

Pen-Air, one of the largest regional airlines in Alaska and the Northeast, can’t afford to serve Bar Harbor without its contract with Northern Maine Regional Airport in Presque Isle, which it will lose in July. 

The airline said it will end service to Bar Harbor in June, the Bangor Daily News  reported.

That leaves the Trenton-based airport little time to find another carrier with the busiest time of year coming up. 

“July right now is potentially threatened just by the timing of it,” Bar Harbor Airport Manager Bradley Madeira told the BDN.

Pen-Air had served Bar Harbor and Presque Isle since 2012. Carriers typically need 60 to 90 days to set up service at an airport.

United Airlines picks up Presque Isle-Newark route

On March 20, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced it was awarding United Airlines a federally subsidized contract to serve Northern Maine Regional Airport in Presque Isle with flights to Newark, N.J., according to the BDN

United Airlines’ service between Presque Isle and Newark will start in July, replacing the Boston-Presque Isle service that PenAir had provided since 2012. Northern Maine Regional Airport, one of 35 public-use airports in Maine, is considered a critical component in keeping northern Maine connected to the rest of the United States.

In January, Pen-Air was vying for a renewal of its contract against five other bids. The Northern Maine Regional Airport Advisory Committee recommended United Airlines, saying it offered the best range of benefits, including a larger plane and the ability to book a larger trip through one ticket.

United’s bid to serve the Northern Maine Regional Airport, at a $4.7 million annual subsidy, was the lowest of six bids and estimated the airline would serve more than 31,000 annual round-trip passengers. By comparison, BDN reported, PenAir sought a $6 million annual subsidy and estimated it would have served 28,710 round-trip passengers.

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