Officials at the Portland International Jetport expect robust business over the holidays, finishing a year that saw record-breaking summer travel and the arrival of new nonstop service to Florida.

Elite Airways, which on Dec. 18 will begin offering twice weekly service between Portland and Melbourne International Airport, near Orlando, is enjoying strong booking and has added six additional flights around the holidays because some of its flights are already sold out, said John Pearsall, president of the Portland-based company. The company’s planes, which seat 70, are also filling up for school breaks in February and April. He said the company will consider adding more flights.

“The advanced bookings have been terrific,” Pearsall said. “Everyone is looking for a robust season.”

Paul Bradbury, director of the city-owned airport, said lower gasoline and heating oil prices are giving people some extra cash to spend on travel. He said the number of available seats are at a near-record level at the jetport because carriers have added larger aircraft and scheduled more flights. Also, compared to past years, fewer of those seats are going unfilled.

He said anticipates maintaining the momentum in the new year.

“We will see how it plays out,” he said. “The weather is a factor in the first quarter.”


The jetport would have set a record for 2015 if it wasn’t for last winter’s bad weather that grounded planes on the East Coast, Bradbury said. Since the weather improved in May, the jetport has been serving an unprecedented number of passengers.

Between May and October, 526,929 people boarded planes at the jetport, setting a record for that six-month period. The previous record was 519,409, set in 2009.

Bradbury said the Christmas travel season will be strong, based on advance bookings. Six airlines that provide nonstop service to 12 destinations serve the jetport.

The airport is usually twice as busy in the summer as in winter. Travel patterns also change somewhat in winter as snowbirds head to Florida and other warm climates.

In December 2014, more than 168 people daily flew from Portland to Florida – landing primarily in Orlando (100.1 passengers daily) and Tampa (68.3 passengers daily) – the most popular state for heat-seeking Mainers.

Year-round, New York City was the top destination, followed by Washington, D.C., and Orlando.


In addition to record numbers this year, the jetport also got some good news via a shoutout from Conde Nast Traveler. Readers of the magazine selected the jetport as the seventh-best airport in the nation. They described the airport as a friendly place that is easy to navigate. They also praised the lobster rolls.

Bradbury said he believes the jetport will overtake the airport in Manchester, New Hampshire, next year in passenger numbers. In fiscal year 2014, the jetport had 843,068 outbound passengers. Manchester’s 2014 outbound passenger volume, counted as a calendar year, was 1,048,128.

The jetport now is ranked the fifth-busiest airport in New England, behind airports in Manchester, Providence, Rhode Island, Hartford, Connecticut, and Boston’s Logan, which had 15.7 million outbound passengers in 2014.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.