March 12, 2010

Portland-Nova Scotia flight service set to take off


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Photo courtesy of Starlink Aviation: Starlink Aviation of Montreal will use an 18-passenger Jetstream 31 turbo prop on twice daily runs between Portland and Nova Scotia. The 18-seat Jetstream will be served by a single flight attendant

Staff Writer

Twice-daily airplane service between Portland and Nova Scotia is due to start up in early February.

The Yarmouth (Nova Scotia) International Airport Corp. announced Friday that it reached an agreement with Starlink Aviation out of Montreal to provide round-trip flights connecting Halifax Stanfield International Airport, Yarmouth Airport and the Portland International Jetport.

It's the first international service for Portland since 2002, when Air Canada experienced financial problems and ended its Portland-to-Montreal route.

Starlink will fly an 18-passenger Jetstream 31 turboprop from Yarmouth to Halifax and back, and then on to Portland, in morning and afternoon runs on weekdays. Prices will be about $250 for a one-way trip from Halifax to Portland and $150 from Yarmouth to Portland, although price details are still being worked out, said Jeffrey Monroe, a former Portland transportation director who is now Yarmouth Airport's development director.

The flight from Halifax to Yarmouth is about 40 minutes, and the trip from Yarmouth to Portland is less than an hour, said Monroe. Passengers will enter Portland's airport through the existing U.S. Customs facility, which is now used by private aircraft, and then will be bused to the main terminal.

During the winter months, there has been no regular transportation service between Nova Scotia and Maine. In the summer, the Cat, a high-speed ferry operated by Bay Ferries Ltd., links Portland to Yarmouth. The trip takes more than five hours.

Monroe said Bay Ferries has expressed interest in offering packages with the air service.

A market analysis shows there is a fair amount of business traffic between Yarmouth, Halifax, Portland and New Hampshire, Monroe said, and research also shows that the ski areas of New Hampshire and Maine are popular destinations for Nova Scotians.

And, Monroe said, people from Canada will be able to connect to Florida through Portland.

Other New England airports, such as the newly renamed Manchester-Boston Regional Airport in New Hampshire and Logan Airport in Boston, were ruled out because flight schedules and distances worked out best at the Portland airport.

Starlink, founded in 1982, operates a fleet of 14 aircraft in Quebec.

''We are very pleased to be able to serve this very dynamic market,'' said Glen Lynch, chief executive officer.

Daniel Paquet, vice president of business development at Starlink, said his company is confident it will receive all necessary operating approvals for an early February opening.

Staff Writer Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at:

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