One of our most frequently asked questions is, “Why don’t you have direct flights to…Boston, Las Vegas, Atlanta, etc.?
Air Service Development is a lengthy process, and is more difficult than picking up the phone and calling an airline and saying, “Hey, we have a lot of people here who would like to go to place X, when can we have a plane to go there?” as I admittedly once thought when I first started my internship in the Marketing Department.
Before BGR obtains a new service route, we must first answer a lot of questions. Yes, we would like air service to almost anywhere, but is it the right fit? Is there enough demand for the service to make the route successful? What size aircraft would we ask for or like to have? Does the airline most likely to serve that route have any “spare” aircraft? What would the price of the tickets be to support the service? Is that price marketable? The Marketing Department studies where our passengers are traveling to and coming from, and tries to match our service requests accordingly.
Risteen Bahr, the Marketing Manager at BGR, is continuously in discussions with airlines and our air service consultants about new service, expanded routes and right-sizing of aircraft and the frequency of flights on existing routes. We attend air service development conferences each year where we have meetings with airlines to propose new and expanded service. When we do this, we discuss our “catchment area”, the population of people within a predetermined radius, the demand for service at BGR, the local business climate, and potential support for new routes. Basically, it comes down to – the more people in the area, the more likely BGR is to get new or expanded air service.
We also have to show that there is interest in why people would come here. Many times we think about planes leaving, but what about the visitors traveling here? We need to demonstrate that people want to come here year round, as well as seasonally.
Finally, we look at potential ticket costs. As we know, the largest driver of air travel costs is the cost of fuel. And while we as the airport have no say in prices airlines set for tickets, we understand that there is a delicate balance between the size of the aircraft, the number of seats, and the length of the trip. It always goes back to the question about demand, and how sustainable and profitable the route would be if an airline starts service here. Air fares that are not priced right will not be supported with traveler purchases.
One final point – we get a lot of requests for Boston service. It’s not that we do not want it, it’s just we have not found the right fit for the service. We know that the size of the aircraft has to be right to sustain the route, but also pricing needs to be reasonable for people to want to fly instead of drive. Ever since the price of oil, and thus jet fuel, increased about seven years ago, airlines do not serve the short haul market as much. However, it is something we discuss regularly with airlines, and work hard to encourage an airline to bring Boston service back to Bangor.
We hope this helps answer your questions. If you have another question you would like answered, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.