Archive for July, 2009

Lewiston Airport pavement work causes minor inconveniences

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

Airport pavement work causes minor inconveniences A front end loader at work at the Lewiston-Nez Perce County Regional Airport.

Story Updated: Jul 9, 2009 at 8:09 AM PDT

By Matt Loveless

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LEWISTON – It’s a lot of work for a couple of parking spots, okay they’re big parking spots.

The Lewiston-Nez Perce County Regional Airport is the site of a construction zone, but planes continue to fly in and out.

The runway apron, which has asphalt that was laid in the 70s, has just about run it’s course.

“The pavement is failing in the area where Delta and Horizon are parking,” said Riedesel Engineering Area Manager John Watson. “There’s a lot of point-load on that asphalt. And with those wheels right there in that asphalt during the summer time, it gets soft.”

Crews are excavating the area in preparation of laying a 16-inch thick slab of concrete, which engineers said will hold up better under hot conditions.

Watson said the rest of the area is also getting some attention, as cracking 30-year-old pavement is everywhere.

“Most of the rest of the asphalt is going to get a slurry seal and crack fill to help prolong the life of that pavement out there,” said Watson.

Ninety-five percent of the $1.5 million project is paid for by an FAA grant, with the other five percent from state aviation grants and city and county funds.

Airport Manager Robin Turner said the work has not and won’t affect flights. Watson said they will pour the concrete by the end of the month and have the project done by mid-August.

“There are some inconveniences for some of the apron traffic going across there,” said Watson. “Passengers have to walk a little further right now than they’re used to. But it’s just temporary. Hopefully they’ll enjoy the new concrete pavement after it’s done.”

Those wishing to avoid the inconvenience can do so with a quick call to Airport Car Express, a local limo company which provides limo services at Taxi rates. Airport Car Express can be reached at 888-893-8294.

All Aboard for Portland

Sunday, July 19th, 2009

To the experienced business traveler, Portland is not a bad place to arrive. The airport is small and easy to navigate; the highways are only somewhat confusing. By far the best way to arrive, in my opinion, is via the Downeaster, Amtrak’s service between Boston and Maine.

Yes, it takes longer than driving between the two cities. Well, at least if you drive the way I do. But for a $48 round-trip ticket, you don’t have to pay for parking, gas, or tolls. Plus you get to relax in comfortable seats with wifi and electrical outlets to help you stay entertained and/or productive on the journey.

The trains offer a handy option for those Mainers who wish to attend Boston sporting events (the final stop is at North Station, which is in the same building as the Celtics and Bruins home games and a short subway ride away from the famed Fenway Park) and perhaps enjoy a beer or four without having to worry about driving back home.

Even better, they allow virtually stress-free travel to Portland for those flying into Boston (you’ll need a cab or subway to get from Logan Airport to North Station) and for Bostonians looking to get out of town for a weekend or more.

Because the Downeaster also stops in Old Orchard Beach (summer only), Saco and Wells, you can also use it for brief day trips away from Portland, no car required.

Each train has bathrooms, a cafe car with a small but adequate selection of breakfast, and friendly, helpful conductors who also offer travel information and advice. On my trip back from Boston today, one of them stopped to let a little girl pose for pictures wearing his conductor’s hat.

Once in Portland, it’s a good idea to have a car waiting for you. The city has a bus system, but it’s pretty limited. You can arrange this with a rental agency, or take a taxi at the station. Parking at the train station lot is a mere $3 a day — a pittance to those used to leaving their vehicles in Boston or New York.

Airport Car Express is one of the best local taxi companies which provides a Lincoln Towncar Limo at a rate comparable to most taxi companies

Jetport seeks out new Seacoast, York County customers

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

By Dave Choate
June 29, 2009 6:00 AM

PORTLAND, Maine — A Portland International Jetport campaign to draw in passengers from around the Seacoast has drawn to a close, but airport officials are hoping its intended effect reverberates through the coming months.

Making use of the Internet, newspapers, the airways and well-known Maine comedian Bob Marley, the jetport sought in recent months to add to its passenger base in a tough time for airlines and airports everywhere, kicking off the campaign early in 2009 when passenger boarding numbers were down about 6 percent, according to jetport Marketing Manager Gregory Hughe

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The campaign aimed to attract passengers who either don’t fly or who currently travel to Boston for their flights. With that effort concluded for the year, jetport officials said they were cautiously optimistic for growth across the region and in the total number of travelers taking to the skies this summer.

Hughes said there continues to be a focus on advertising in York County, but said the jetport does not currently have funds necessary to put together a study and determine how many more passengers are coming from the targeted areas.

He said staff are hopeful that Maine’s natural attractions, which could make for a cheaper vacation, will prove to be a huge draw as the weather improves.

Airport Director Paul Bradbury said in the spring that the goal was to convince those in southern Maine and Seacoast New Hampshire that a trip to Portland is quicker and easier than a trip to Logan Airport in Boston. Bradbury said the Jetport did so in hopes of tapping into a total of 2.2 million passengers he said the company’s research shows are within the Greater Portland trade area.

The biggest pushes for the campaign were in southern Maine and eastern Rockingham County in New Hampshire, according to Bradbury, who acknowledged that those close to Logan and Manchester-Boston Regional Airport in Manchester, N.H., will still mostly choose to head there, especially for flight paths that Portland doesn’t carry.

He said some of the challenge has come from people who don’t think to drive north if their flight is carrying them south, but noted that those living in Kennebunk or Wells can make a trip to the jetport in less than 45 minutes, while a trip to Boston can take upwards of an hour and 45 minutes. Pitching that distance advantage, plus what he said were cheaper parking rates, will hopefully appeal to the gas and money conscious.

“That’s absolutely the hope,” Bradbury said. “That’s the crux of our campaign.”

That campaign prominently featured the familiar Maine-accented voice of Marley, a comedian whose riffs on Downeast life have made him popular in the area.

Hughes said there was some initial reluctance to make use of Marley — “the airlines, transportation and travel are easy jokes for comedians,” he said — but found last year that he was a frequent flyer and an asset for the marketing effort.

“Our theme this year has been convenience, convenience, convenience,” Hughes said. “He’s a perfect spokesman.”

Hughes said the emphasis was on what he called Portland’s competitive pricing thanks to low-cost airline carriers, ample parking and close proximity to the targeted areas to drive the campaign. He said he realizes that with the current economic climate, people are looking for deals, and hopes those close to Portland will be able to find one at the jetport.

“Everybody wants to get a reasonable airfare. You’d be foolish not to,” Hughes said.

Bradbury acknowledged that airports and airlines alike have struggled through the recession with dips in boarding numbers, with The Portland International Jetport slotted firmly in the middle of the smallest and biggest drops.

“The reality is that our base is shrinking,” Bradbury said at the time. “We need to capture a greater percentage of our market and not lose more.”