Portland International Jetport

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Portland International Jetport ( IATA: PWM, ICAO: KPWM, FAA LID: PWM) is a public airport located two miles (3 km) west of the central business district of Portland, in Cumberland County, Maine, United States. It is owned by the City of Portland. A significant portion of the Jetport, including the main runway, is located in the neighboring city of South Portland. This regional airport serves much of Maine and is the busiest airport in the state. In 2007, the airport handled a record 1,648,568 passengers, up 17.0% from the previous year. Recently, the Jetport has benefited from service by low-cost carriers such as JetBlue and AirTran Airways. PWM is now in the process of expanding and updating its terminal to allow more airline service.


Early years
The airfield was founded in the late 1920s by Dr. Clifford “Kip” Strange, who needed space for his JN-4 "Jenny" Biplane. Known as Stroudwater Field, the airport received its first commercial service on August 1, 1931, when Boston-Maine Airways began a flight from Portland to Boston. Two years later, the city of Portland bought the airfield and changed its name to Portland-Westbrook Municipal Airport. "Westbrook" referred to the location of the last directional light before the airport in the nearby city of Westbrook. The current airport started to take shape in the 1950s to '60s. Runway 11/29 was built in 1957 and lengthened to 6,800 feet (2,073 m) in 1966. The current terminal was opened in 1968, when jet service began.

1960s - 1970s
Boston-Maine Airways had a monopoly on passenger air travel out of Portland, which would continue when the airline was renamed Northeast Airlines. Another airline emerged in 1962, when Atlantic Airways began service between the airport and Boston's Logan International Airport. This competition was short lived, however, as there is no other information about the airline other than one timetable. Northeast would be alone at the airport for another eight years, when, in 1970, another regional carrier, Aroostook Airways, began offering service between Presque Isle and Portland, with stops in Augusta and Bangor. Unfortunately, this airline too faded into obscurity, lasting until 1972. That same year, regional airline Air New England began service in Portland, competing with Northeast Airlines with intrastate routes and the route between Portland and Boston. 1972 was a busy year for passenger airlines at the Portland International Jetport. It marked the end of Aroostook Airways, as well as the introduction of two new airlines. In 1972, Northeast Airlines was bought out by Delta Air Lines, who remain at the Jetport to this day. The airline started out slow in Portland, merely retaining the former Northeast Routes to Bangor, Boston, and New York. By 1979, Delta had expanded at the Jetport, adding Burlington, Vermont as well.

1980s - 1990s
The 1980s and airline deregulation brought many changes to the Jetport. These changes began in 1981, when Air New England ceased operations and pulled out of the Jetport after 11 years. This departure was followed a year later by the arrival of Air Vermont, a regional carrier that served a route between Portland and Burlington until about 1983 or 1984, when it too went out of business. One of the most important events during this period was the arrival of PEOPLExpress Airlines in 1983. The airline, the first low-cost carrier to operate out of the Jetport, was well known nationally for its rock-bottom prices. The airline operated a route between Portland and Newark that is still operated today by Continental Airlines, which bought out PEOPLExpress in 1987. In 1984, United Airlines, in its attempt to be the only airline to serve all 50 states, began operating out of Portland, originally flying the Portland and Burlington route that had been left behind by Air Vermont. This was merely the beginning of United's operations in Portland, as the airline still exists there today. That same year, small regional carrier Ransome Airlines, doing business as Delta Connection, began a route between Portland and Boston. This route ended in 1986, when Ransome was bought by Pan Am and renamed Pan Am Express. 1986 also brought to the Jetport US Airways (then USAir), who began service from Portland to Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Low-cost carrier Presidential Airways also began service from the Jetport in 1986, flying a route from Portland to Washington's Dulles International Airport. This would be short-lived, however, as Presidential Airways ceased operations by the end of the decade. 1987 saw the arrival of Continental Airlines, when the airline bought PEOPLExpress and took over their existing route system. It also saw the beginning of Business Express, a commuter airline offering service from Portland to Boston, New York-LaGuardia, and Presque Isle, originally independently, and then doing business as Delta Connection.

In the wake of September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, many U.S. airlines began offering fewer flights. This furthered the airlines' shift from mainline jet aircraft to smaller regional jets or turboprops at PWM. In late 2002, American Eagle stopped flying to the Jetport. In 2004, Runway 11/29 was lengthened to a total of 7,200 feet (2,195 m), to accommodate larger aircraft and to improve safety. On September 1, 2005, Delta Air Lines ended mainline service to PWM. Despite the airline's strong history at Portland, serving the Jetport in the past with aircraft as large as the Boeing 727 and 757, all flights from that date forward were set to be operated by Delta Connection on Bombardier CRJ series regional jets. Some service began to return as the airline industry's economics improved in 2005 and 2006. The first step up came with the introduction of the low cost carrier Independence Air in 2005. On May 1, 2005, Independence added a daily flight to Washington Dulles on an Airbus A319, making them the first carrier to fly an Airbus out of Portland. Portland was one of the few markets that Independence Air consistently served with its A319s, and at the time of its bankruptcy Portland was rumored to be one of its few profitable destinations. FedEx Express also began using an Airbus A310 widebody jet on its cargo flights to Memphis later that year, although today the company still primarily uses a 757 or 727 for those flights. After Independence Air went bankrupt, Portland was left without a low-cost carrier, causing fares to go up, and passenger numbers to once again decline. Capitalizing on the underserved market, JetBlue Airways began service to Portland on May 23, 2006, with four daily flights to New York-JFK aboard Airbus A320 jets " currently the largest passenger jets serving Portland. This made them the second-largest air carrier at the Jetport (in terms of available seats) nearly overnight. This addition of service inspired what is known as The Southwest Effect, where the addition of a large number of low cost seats in a market forces down the price of competing tickets. On June 7, 2007, AirTran Airways began seasonal service to Baltimore-Washington, as well as to Orlando, Florida. This established AirTran as the second low-cost carrier in Portland, competing with JetBlue. This was the first time that Portland received regularly-scheduled non-stop service to a Florida destination. AirTran serves the Jetport with Boeing 717 and 737 jets. At the same time as AirTran's arrival, JetBlue announced that it would be adding a fifth flight of its own to New York, further increasing the number of available low cost seats. On September 26, 2007 JetBlue also announced a daily direct flight to Orlando, using its Embraer 190 aircraft, beginning in January 2008. The year 2007 was a record high for Portland: the added service posted a 17% increase in passengers from the year before. In 2008, Delta Air Lines resumed mainline service to Portland, with a daily flight to Atlanta on a McDonnell Douglas MD-88 jet. At the same time, a regional startup, New England Air Transport (NEAT) began intrastate air service, flying three times weekly to Aroostook County with a Piper Chieftain. This was the first intrastate service offered out of Portland in more than a decade. With these increases, 2008 also saw a number of losses of service, with air traffic in an overall decline as the airline industry scaled back due to the Great Recession. At the onset of 2009, the Jetport saw the return of international service. Starlink Aviation announced the start of service between Portland and Halifax, Nova Scotia and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, to begin in February of that year.

With the start of 2010, the Jetport saw a number of changes in service. Starlink Aviation ended its service linking Portland to Yarmouth and Halifax, Nova Scotia, citing the loss of a Canadian subsidy. Soon after Starlink ended their service, a Maine-based company, Twin Cities Air Service, began flying between Portland and Yarmouth on a semi-daily basis. This service began on March 15, 2010. At the same time, Air Canada announced that it would be launching a number of new routes out of Toronto, including a flight to Portland. The twice-daily Portland-Toronto service began on May 17, 2010, operated by Air Georgian using Beechcraft 1900D aircraft. While these two new airlines began service, the Jetport began construction on its expanded terminal as well as several infrastructure improvements. Major expansion of the airline terminal " which has already been expanded at least twice " took place during most of 2010 and into the first half of 2011. Other changes include improvements to the baggage claim, reconfiguration of the airport access road and terminal roads, and rehabilitation and expansion of the parking garage. Expansion and improvements are also planned for the general aviation ramp, enlarging the cargo ramp and facilities, reconfiguring the alignment of taxiways, improving the airport's deicing facilities, and eventually lengthening Runway 18/36. The new terminal will feature a geothermal heating and cooling system " the largest of its kind in Maine " which is expected to reduce the Jetport's consumption of heating oil by up to 102,000 gallons per year.

Traffic and statistics

Airlines and destinations

Historical service
  • 1931-1941: Boston-Maine Airways
  • 1941-1972: Northeast Airlines (Boston-Maine Airways rebranded as Northeast Airlines)
  • 1962: Atlantic Airways
  • 1970: Aroostook Airways
  • 1970-1981: Air New England
  • 1972-1990: Bar Harbor Airlines (Part of Eastern Express)
  • 1972-today: Delta Air Lines ( Northeast Airlines Merged with Delta Air Lines)
  • 1974-1995: Northeast Express Regional Airlines ( Northeast Express Regional Airlines was bought by Northwest Airlines)
  • 1982-1985: Air Vermont
  • 1983-1987: People Express (Bought by Continental Airlines)
  • 1984-unknown: Ransome Airlines (Operated as Delta Connection)
  • 1984-today: United Airlines
  • 1985-unknown: Bangor International Airlines
  • 1986: Presidential Airways
  • 1986-today: US Airways (Originally as USAir)
  • 1987-today: Continental Airlines ( People Express was bought by Continental Airlines)
  • 1987-2000: Business Express (Originally its own company, then it became part of Delta Connection who sold it to American Eagle)
  • 1989-1993: Trans World Express (Operated by Metro Airlines Northeast)
  • 1999-2010: Northwest Airlines (merged with Delta Air Lines)
  • 1999-2002: American Airlines
  • 1999-2001: TWA ( TWA was bought by American Airlines)
  • 1999-2001: Air Nova (Became Air Canada Jazz)
  • 2004-2006: Independence Air (ceased operations)
  • 2006-today: JetBlue Airways
  • 2007-today: AirTran Airways
  • 2008-2009: New England Air Transport
  • 2009: Starlink Aviation
  • 2010-today: Twin Cities Air Service
  • 2010-today: Air Canada (Operated by Air Georgian)

Air cargo operators and destinations

Ground transportation
The airport is accessible from I-95 (the Maine Turnpike) and I-295. The jetport provides ample parking space in multiple ground lots as well as two parking garages, with rates ranging from $10”“$12 per day. A complimentary cell phone lot is available just outside the baggage claim area. METRO Bus and taxi service can be accessed from the ground transportation booth outside the baggage claim. A shuttle bus service called The Portland Explorer provides access to area hotels and to other local transportation, such as the Amtrak Downeaster train service, and Concord Coach Lines intercity bus service at the Portland Transportation Center.

Accidents and incidents

  • On July 11, 1944, at 4:45 PM, U.S. Army Lt. Phillip "Phee" Russell was attempting to land his Douglas A-26 Invader at PWM. For reasons that were never fully determined, Russell lost control of the plane and crashed into a trailer park in South Portland's Brick Hill neighborhood. 19 people were killed and 20 people were injured " mostly women and children " making it the worst aviation accident in Maine history.
  • On July 17, 2010, at around 3:27 PM, an Aerostar Yak-52 with registration number N52MY " a two-person, single-engine aircraft " crashed near a South Portland shopping plaza, a few hundred feet from the Jetport. The plane had just taken off from the Jetport's main runway after making several touch-and-go landings and was apparently trying to return to the Jetport due to a mechanical problem. Both occupants of the plane were killed. There were no injuries on the ground. NTSB investigators say the plane's propeller was not turning at the time of impact. The cause of the crash has not yet been determined. The investigation could take up to a year to complete. The owner and pilot of the plane, Mark Haskell, was an air traffic controller at PWM. The passenger in the plane, Thomas Casagrande, was a certified flight instructor and retired military test pilot who was conducting Haskell's recertification that day.

  • The airport was the starting point of Mohamed Atta and Abdulaziz al-Omari's travels on September 11, 2001. The pair flew to Boston, where they boarded American Airlines Flight 11 and later hijacked it and crashed it into One World Trade Center. Their rental car was later taken from the Jetport.

Busiest Domestic Routes from Portland (2010) Rank Airport Passengers Carriers 1 New York (JFK), New York 104,000 JetBlue 2 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 101,000 US Airways 3 Baltimore, Maryland 88,000 AirTran 4 Atlanta, Georgia 83,000 AirTran, Delta 5 New York (LaGuardia), New York 77,000 Delta, US Airways 6 Newark, New Jersey 77,000 Continental 7 Chicago (O'Hare), Illinois 70,000 United 8 Washington (National), DC 58,000 US Airways 9 Detroit, Michigan 54,000 Delta 10 Washington (Dulles), DC 51,000 United Airlines Destinations Air Canada operated by Air Georgian Toronto-Pearson AirTran Airways Baltimore Seasonal: Atlanta, Orlando Continental Connection operated by Colgan Air Newark Continental Express operated by ExpressJet Airlines Seasonal: Cleveland Delta Air Lines Atlanta Delta Connection operated by Chautauqua Airlines New York-LaGuardia Delta Connection operated by Comair New York-LaGuardia Delta Connection operated by Compass Airlines Seasonal: Detroit, New York-LaGuardia Delta Connection operated by Mesaba Airlines Seasonal: Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul Delta Connection operated by Pinnacle Airlines Detroit, New York-LaGuardia JetBlue Airways New York-JFK, Orlando Twin Cities Air Service Yarmouth, NS United Express operated by GoJet Airlines Chicago-O'Hare, Washington-Dulles United Express operated by Mesa Airlines Chicago-O'Hare, Washington-Dulles US Airways Charlotte US Airways Express operated by Air Wisconsin New York-LaGuardia, Philadelphia, Washington-National Seasonal: Charlotte US Airways Express operated by Chautauqua Airlines New York-LaGuardia US Airways Express operated by Mesa Airlines Seasonal: Charlotte US Airways Express operated by Piedmont Airlines New York-LaGuardia Seasonal: Philadelphia US Airways Express operated by Republic Airlines Philadelphia, Washington-National Seasonal: Charlotte Airlines Destinations FedEx Express Burlington, Memphis FedEx Feeder operated by Wiggins Airways Bangor, Manchester (NH), Presque Isle, Hartford

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