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Ribbon cutting set for airport expansion



TRENTON — A ribbon cutting for the newly expanded Hancock County-Bar Harbor Airport is scheduled for Friday, May 22.

The $3.1-million facelift and expansion has doubled the size of the airport terminal from 5,000 to 10,000 square feet.

The small county airport has upgraded its security area, added new customer service areas and made aesthetic improvements.

The airport is host to two commercial airlines as well as many private planes per year, occasionally including Air Force One. There are about 2,200 commercial flights annually.

“FAA Improvement Funds financed 87.6 percent of the project,” explained Brad Madeira, airport manager. “The Maine Department of Transportation is providing 4.5 percent and the local airport share is 7.9 percent.

“We really needed to accommodate more passengers and improve TSA screening. The original building was designed in a pre-TSA era.”

This is a critical upgrade for many small airports across the country due to post-9/11 security requirements.

Previously, the airport had a very small area for screened passengers, with no restrooms or services on the secure side. Often with heavier traffic in the summer months, the post-security room was too small to fit everyone for a specific flight, so multiple groups had to be screened before each flight, which was hugely inefficient.

The new space houses arrival and departure areas, including restrooms and vending machines in the security area. Ticketing and rental car desks were upgraded with new cabinets, counters, flooring and lighting. Architects added a large window in the departure area that offers views of the mountains of Acadia National Park to departing passengers.

“The passenger experience is now much more similar to what you get at other airports with the exception that we can provide a higher level of customer service,” Madeira said. “We have a smaller number of passengers we cater to and very dedicated airline, TSA and rental car staff who are very good at their jobs.”

The ribbon cutting will take place with the assistance of the Ellsworth Area Chamber of Commerce at noon on Friday, May 22, at the new terminal building.

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