Maine-based charter airline Elite Airways on Tuesday plans to announce a new service between Portland and Melbourne International Airport in Florida.

The airport is roughly an hour’s drive from Orlando, 35 minutes from the Kennedy Space Center, 20 minutes from Cocoa Beach, and 20 minutes from Port Canaveral, a large cruise ship port.

Earlier this month, the airline announced flights starting Dec. 10 from Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey to Vero Beach Municipal Airport, which is less than a hour’s drive from Melbourne.

The airline operates a fleet of six Bombardier CRJ-200 aircraft fitted with 50 passenger seats and four Bombardier CRJ-700 aircraft fitted with 70 seats.

The new service is aimed at the leisure market, said Elite spokeswoman Rebecca Crisafulli. She said the route between Florida and Maine is considered underserved, with a paucity of airlines that offer nonstop service to that part of Florida. Several airlines serve Orlando and Florida coastal airports from Portland, but nearly all require a stop or connecting flight.

Since 2012, the airline has had plans to expand into scheduled flight dates as part of a strategy to connect smaller New England cities with Florida destinations to capitalize on snowbird travelers. The airline is targeting Florida’s Space Coast – the area around Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center – as its primary destination.


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