PenAir is best airline choice

6 years ago

To the editor:

Presque Isle is a small stable city in a very rural area of northern Maine. It is the service center for most of Aroostook County. The nearest larger city that provides air transportation is 200 miles away. Air service to Presque Isle defines what essential air service is.

I want PenAir to continue to provide the service, as they have for the past six years. They are a small family-run business which has provided safe and personal service to our area. PenAir invested in our community, supporting Angel Flights to Boston and donating tickets for local causes. Their aircraft stays overnight in Presque Isle; their crews are part of our community. A large national carrier would not be able to serve our area these ways, and losing PenAir would have a harmful impact on all of us.

I want our essential air service to connect us to Boston, not Newark. Boston is the hub of all of New England, and northern Maine is as New England as it gets. It is possible now to fly into Boston in the morning and return to Presque Isle that same evening. This allows Aroostook County residents to have essential medical care at the finest hospitals on the East Coast, have business meetings, or just be able to have a getaway for shopping and sightseeing, without having to stay overnight. Logan Airport is the largest airport in New England and has connecting flights on most major airlines all over the country and the world. Once daily service to Newark would make day trips for essential or social activities  impossible, and isolate this area from our neighbors.

I want essential air service to continue to be provided by PenAir to Boston for other reasons as well. Most importantly, it would be safer. The Saab 340 is a better suited aircraft for our extreme northern New England winters, and PenAir has an excellent safety record — one of the best in the country. It would also be economically wiser. PenAir spends over $1 million annually in our community, paying salaries, renting hangars, paying utilities and fees. Losing PenAir would be a major economic blow to Presque Isle and our area.

If air service is changed to a major carrier going to Newark, many people will lose access to essential medical, business and social opportunities. Fewer people will fly, as the cost will increase and flights decrease. The existence of essential air service in Presque Isle will be threatened in an area of our country that needs it the most. If the purpose of essential air service is to provide truly essential air service to where people need and want to go, through a carrier that will provide excellent, safe service while contributing to the economy of the area it serves, then the only choice for Presque Isle is PenAir to Boston.

Diane D. Shaw