Airport hits target for enplanements

TRENTON — The Hancock County-Bar Harbor Airport should land $1 million in funding from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) next year.

The airport clocked more than 10,000 passenger boardings, or enplanements, in 2016, Airport Manager Bradley Madeira said.

“This means that the airport should be eligible to receive up to $1 million of federal airport improvement entitlement funds in 2018,” he said.

Madeira attributes the success of 2016 to the addition of a third air carrier.

“The thing that really made a difference in 2016 was the temporary addition of Elite Airways to our scheduled air carriers,” Madeira said in an email.

Elite was the first commercial jet service to operate out of the airport, but it pulled out after the 2016 season. The carrier had offered weekly flights to Newark, N.J., and Vero Beach, Fla.

“I am confident that if they had stayed here, they would have significantly increased that number in 2017,” Madeira said. “So, unfortunately, we will not likely get to 10,000 boardings in 2017, but I will continue to work on finding a solution that gets us there moving ahead.”

The airport hadn’t reached its enplanement target, which is set by the FAA, since 2013.

One of the airport’s carriers, PenAir, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last month, according to Alaska Dispatch News. The filing gives the company protection from creditors while it reorganizes. “They tell us it won’t impact the Boston operation” that includes Bar Harbor, Presque Isle and Plattsburgh, N.Y., Madeira said.

“On the down side, they owe us $17,000,” he told the county commissioners. “Because of the bankruptcy, they’re protected from having to pay those fees out.”

Madeira also said he had been contacted by a corporation interested in building a hangar at the airport.

“I have been asked to look into the possibility of developing a large corporate hangar on the airfield,” he said in an email. “I don’t really want to comment much on that right now until we get further down the line on the project, but we, of course, hope to work with the prospective tenant to move forward with the project, as it will help us to support the airport moving forward.”

Madeira noted that the airport is “self-sustaining.”

“We do not rely on any local county taxes to operate, so any additional development helps us to continue to generate fees that allow us to continue to be self-sustaining in an environment of rising costs.”

Here’s a breakdown of the 10,094 enplanements, according to the airport:

Cape Air, PenAir and Elite Airways generated 8,454.

Charter operators generated 1,640.

Jennifer Osborn

Jennifer Osborn

Reporter and columnist at The Ellsworth American
News Reporter Jennifer Osborn covers news and features on the Blue Hill Peninsula and Deer Isle-Stonington. She welcomes tips and story ideas. She also writes the Gone Shopping column. Email Jennifer with your suggestions at [email protected] or call 667-2576.
Jennifer Osborn

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