Maine Travel Basics: Q&A
Whether you fly into Portland or somewhere more remote, Maine offers plenty of ways to get around.
Thanks to low-cost airlines and improvements to the terminal and parking areas, Maine’s largest airport now offers fares and services that are competitive with larger airports like Logan and Manchester. The Portland International Jetport’s Gregory Hughes explains why flying to Maine is getting even easier and cheaper.
Why fly into Portland, instead of Boston or Manchester?
Convenience, convenience, convenience. Seriously, my big question is would you rather arrive in Portland at nine-thirty at night, or at Boston or Manchester at nine-thirty at night? And if one wants to really study the fares, you’ll see that we have very competitive prices with Boston or Manchester, though obviously not 100 percent of the time.
How has the rise of discount carriers changed the Jetport?
With JetBlue, which came two years ago, and AirTran, which came last year in May, it has really dragged airfares down for the other carriers that we have. The double hit with them has been just everything for us. This economy is tough on the industry, but even though we were down 6 percent for the first six months of this year, we were way above Logan and Manchester. The airfares are the best they’ve ever been, and it looks like it’s busy out there today.
How does fog or other weather affect air travel at the Jetport?
Fog is almost a non-issue here. Back in 2004 they finished putting in the center runway lights, and that has literally ended the problems. It went from needing 1,600 feet of visibility down to six hundred feet. That has been a godsend, since with the moist weather we have it can get pretty foggy, so that was a huge improvement on the reliability of the flights, in particular the morning flights.
What about plans to expand the Jetport?
We’ll start on the expansion to the terminal next spring. That will take care of the choke point we have in the security area, which will expand from four to up to six points, with the capability for eight. And if you have a longer area for “divesture” — where you take off your shoes, take off your coat, and unpack your laptop — more of us can be doing that at one time. Also, the third level of the parking garage will allow you to go straight across to the security gate, which will be a real bonus for business travelers and people who already have their boarding passes.
How long does it take to drive to Bar Harbor?
If you don’t get slaughtered by traffic, it’s a not-too-hard two and a half hours. But I tell people to take their time, get a lobster roll at Red’s, and if you see a road going off to the water, take it.