Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Hancock County-Bar Harbor (KBHB), Bar Harbor, Maine: Passenger Shortage Has Airport in Danger of Losing Federal Funds

TRENTON — The Hancock County-Bar Harbor Airport is in danger of losing $850,000 in federal entitlement funds because not enough passengers are flying out of the airport this year. 

Airport Manager Allison Rogers sounded the alarm Tuesday at the Hancock County Commissioners monthly meeting.

“I don’t think there’s any way we’re going to make 10,000 enplanements,” Rogers said.

Airports that board at least 10,000 paid passengers in a calendar year are assured that the Federal Aviation Administration will award them $1 million in entitlement funds from its Airport Capital Improvement Program.

Falling short of the 10,000-enplanement threshold means the airport’s entitlement drops to $150,000.

Rogers told the board the issue was PenAir, which began serving Hancock County this summer.

The carrier has had mechanical problems and hasn’t done the aggressive marketing that Cape Air, another new Hancock County carrier, launched, according to Rogers.

Rogers said she would be meeting with PenAir officials this month and that PenAir planned to make the round of local Rotary Club meetings and other groups.

County Commission Chairman Steve Joy said, “That’s not acceptable. We need our 10,000 enplanements.”

Joy said he’s wondered if the FAA would one day raise the 10,000 figure to 15,000 or 20,000.

“If we don’t make that, [10,000], I’m not certain we should be in business,” Joy said. “They’ve got to get in bed with us and say, ‘We’ll do this or we’ll do that.’”

PenAir is committed to Hancock County and says its numbers for July are not far off its target. 


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