The Star-Herald

PROBUS Club learns about airport operation

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — The Aroostook Probus Club held their monthly meeting on July 18 at Reed Commons on the Northern Maine Community College campus.  

Club President Dave Maxcy introduced the guest speaker, Scott Wardwell, director of the Presque Isle International Airport. 

Wardwell  graduated from Washburn High School and has both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in engineering from the University of Maine.

He told the group that the Department of Transportation determines which airline will serve the city because it is an “essential needs” airport and heavily subsidized. Recommendations given by the community are considered, but are not the determining factor. 

Wardwell said the previous service by PenAir had only 6.8 percent of the market which serves Houlton north. Parts of New Brunswick also used the airline to fly to points south, such as Orlando, Florida.  The previous Boston flights all had other stops before they reached their final destinations, while Newark offers nonstop connections, he said, including a long-distance flight to Singapore, for example.  

He said United offers lower prices for Presque Isle travelers, lower than Bangor fares. United issued a bid for $4.8 million each year, as compared to Pen-Air at $6.5 for the first year, and $6.7 each year following.

According to Wardwell, cancellations have been no more on United as opposed to PenAir or any other airline serving Maine. They have improved in the last 12 months, and United is experiencing the best July here in over 12 years.

Being an essential-needs airport means many factors have to be considered in order to ensure that Presque Isle International Airport continues to provide satisfactory airplane service to its citizens.

The FFA has very strict rules about all runway conditions, Wardwell said, and winter storms will affect flight times and cancellations.

He noted that the airport can provide refueling and U.S. Customs services for any European flight, as well.

The PROBUS Club welcomes new members at any time. Anyone interested in the community and seeks opportunities to meet other retired professionals is welcome.

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