Bangor shines as go-to airport for transatlantic tech stops
For more than 40 years, Maine’s Bangor International Airport has been the go-to airport for transatlantic flights as the Eastern- most port of entry to the U.S. The airport, which also owns and operates the Avitat Bangor FBO, is exhibiting here (Booth No. 664) for its second year, having attended every EBACE since the show started.
Bangor’s specialty is quick-turns for aircraft making tech stops to clear U.S. Customs and Immigration. The airport is open and fully staffed–including the control tower–24 hours a day, seven days a week. Formerly Dow Air Force Base, Bangor offers an 11,440-foot-long runway with 1,000-foot safety areas at each end and a Cat. III ILS.
While modern long-range business jets have in many cases eliminated the need to make tech stops at border airports, Bangor still sees plenty of business, ranging from military troop transport charters to cargo flights and business jets. Buyers of long-range jets, assistant airport director Anthony Caruso pointed out, have traded in older shorter-range jets, and many of those are still flying. “We haven’t noticed a major change,” he said. “We’ve been a transatlantic tech stop for 40 years and we’re recognized as a leader in that.”
The primary attraction of Bangor, Caruso asserted, is the airport’s highly trained personnel and their ability to turn around most flights in half an hour. “Time is money,” he said. “We’ve recognized that for years.” Bangor is an easy airport to fly into and there are no ground-handling, navigation, air traffic control or other unnecessary fees, he said. “You pay for the services you take, and it’s very simple, convenient, cost-effective and efficient.”
For business jet travelers, U.S. customs and immigration officials will meet the aircraft on the ramp, at any time of the day or night. “We have a great working relationship with the local Customs folks,” Caruso said. “They’re very efficient and professional.”
Bangor Airport has been part of the Exxon Avitat network since 2001. “It has enhanced our reputation,” said Caruso, who has worked at the airport since 1996. He admits that an airport running an FBO is unique, but it works very well for Bangor Airport and its customers. “I and the other employees really believe in what we’re doing,” he said. “We truly understand our niche and role.”
To make quick service possible, it helps if customers pre-arrange arrivals with the airport, said Caruso. “Not that we can’t handle a drop-in, but we strongly recommend that you give us as much notice as you can so we can update Customs.” It is also a good idea to include any needed services in the notification, he added, like lavatory servicing, water-tank filling, fuel and so forth. “We’ll have everything staged,” he said.
The Bangor terminal has a restaurant, and there is also a Sheraton hotel on the airport with its own restaurant. The FBO offers a vast amount of ramp space, a soundproofed snooze room so pilots getting ready for crew changes can catch up on sleep any time of day, a conference room, weather terminal, Internet access, TV room and pilot lounge. Avitat Bangor accepts contract fuel programs and also will arrange discounts directly with aircraft operators.
While Bangor typically receives more than 100 inches of snow each winter, this year was milder. “We sort of escaped,” Caruso said. “We’re down to half of that so far this year.” Bangor Airport’s snow-removal crews are experts at keeping the airport open in any conditions. The airport is also keeping ahead of potentially restrictive new environmental standards regarding runoff of de-icing fluids and it built de-icing pads where all runoff is captured and treated. One of the airport’s de-icing trucks features hot-air assist, which helps remove light snow with less de-icing fluid.
Bangor Airport is also famous for the local Maine Troop Greeters organization, which greets every arriving military transport at all hours of the day and night to welcome them home or wish them well as they depart overseas. The airport held an appreciation ceremony on March 31 to celebrate the group’s one millionth soldier passing through the airport since the beginning of the Afghanistan conflict. The airport donates a former duty-free shop space for the greeters.