BANGOR — City councilors on the airport committee approved the first lease Tuesday for a portion of the new corporate aviation hangar opening at 9 a.m. today at General Aviation, a division of Bangor International Airport.
LifeFlight of Maine, which operates a helicopter under contract to Eastern Maine Healthcare, is the first tenant for the new 11,000-square-foot hangar at 200 Maine Ave. The helicopter will occupy 3,600 square feet of space.
The committee approved a one-year lease incorporating renewals for four additional years at a cost of $32,100 a year. Airport Director Bob Ziegelaar said that the lease rate was a little higher than average because of the interior finishes provided in the bay.
He added that he expected the other two bays to be leased fairly soon.
In other business, the committee voted to recommend that the full council approve the recent report issued by a task force Gov. Angus King instituted to improve domestic air service to the airport.
From late summer through the fall, city and state officials and representatives of the travel industry and other businesses met to discuss marketing and other issues.
Recommendations included a governor’s conference, expected to be held this spring; and a four-year marketing effort involving $1 million from airport reserves, $1 million from the Legislature, and $2 million in hoped-for federal funds.
Ziegelaar said he thought it was looking good for the Legislature to appropriate the state share of funds. He added that Gov. King had been following up on the task force’s efforts and also was involved personally in trying to urge Delta Air Lines to establish and re-establish routes that would serve Bangor.
“Augusta has really come forward on this,” commented Councilor John Rohman, citing efforts by King and by Transportation Commissioner John Melrose to support the work of the task force. “They have really done the extra step.” Other councilors in attendance concurred.
Also on Tuesday, Marketing Manager Jeff Russell reviewed the year-end report on business at the airport.
He called the statistics “a mixed bag.” Jet fuel sales were up 11 percent in 1999, and General Aviation, serving private and corporate aircraft, saw a business increase of 10 percent.
International landings and domestic flights were both down 4 percent, although the number of international passengers clearing customs actually increased. And military transit traffic was up 35 percent, he said.
In particular, Russell pointed out, the airport wants to increase traffic in the slack months of January, May, November and December.
Average daily capacity declined from 1,854 seats per day in 1998 to 1,795 in 1999, and daily passengers declined from 1,251 to 1,139. However, he said, there will be an increase in jet capacity and passengers this coming year with the beginning of Pan American jet service to Portsmouth, N.H., and Orlando, Fla., on March 1.
Russell also told councilors that there would be an announcement soon about additional cargo service, something the airport has been needing. Pan Am also will carry cargo for the area.