Henry Laughlin III sees his aviation company’s new private terminal at Portland International Jetport as the latest step toward bringing more aviation jobs – and jobs in general – to Maine.

Laughlin, owner and president of Portland-based Northeast Air, gave customers, industry colleagues and local officials a sneak peek at the $3.5 million facility Friday. He hopes to have the new terminal up and running within the coming week.

Laughlin is full of energy, a fast talker with a salesman’s flair. He pointed to one of the sleek private planes his company recently sold, a Pilatus PC-12, for just under $5 million.

“This is the Mercedes of single-engine turboprop aircraft,” he said. “This is the best of the best. … These airplanes don’t go down in price.”

Northeast was founded by Laughlin’s father, Henry Laughlin Jr., in 1969. In addition to being a licensed Pilatus dealership and operating a terminal for private aircraft, Northeast also provides all of the maintenance, fueling and de-icing services to commercial aircraft at the jetport. Its avionics department does all of the jetport’s tracking and routing of aircraft. In all, the company employs 75 workers year-round and boosts its staff to 90 for de-icing services in the winter.

“We virtually touch every airplane that comes into the airport,” said Mark Goodwin, the company’s vice president and general manager.


Laughlin said he plans to expand the company’s servicing and repair center for Pilatus aircraft at the jetport, which would add up to 10 more high-paying jobs. The new terminal will help facilitate that goal, he said.

“When we service these airplanes, you want these customers to be treated sort of like royalty,” Laughlin said.

Before the new terminal’s construction, Northeast operated out of the jetport’s original passenger terminal, built in the 1950s. Laughlin said the previous terminal was no longer sufficient to meet the jetport’s private-aircraft passenger volume and parking needs. It was time for a complete tear-down and rebuild.

“It was old and tired when I was a lineman, and that was back in the late ’70s,” he said.

At Friday’s sneak preview, members of Portland’s business community said the new terminal is likely to boost economic development because it will be the first thing seen by wealthy entrepreneurs, corporate executives and celebrities when they arrive in Portland on their private jets.

“First impressions are critical,” said Bill Becker, vice president of Key Private Bank in Portland and treasurer of the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce. Becker praised Northeast as “a successful, multi-generational Maine business that has gotten it right.”


Jetport Director Paul Bradbury described the new two-story glass terminal as a striking reminder of the contributions Northeast has made to the jetport for decades. He described it as “best in class” and said its runway-facing design reveals a genuine love of aviation on the part of its developer.

“I don’t know that I know a more passionate business person than Henry,” Bradbury said.

The aviation industry has been growing steadily in Maine since the 2008 recession, with a few notable recent developments.

Portland’s MAC Air Group recently completed its own new terminal at the jetport for its charter customers and launched a new subsidiary called QJet Shares to offer a timeshare program for private jets.

On Friday, Maine’s congressional delegation issued a statement announcing that C&L Aerospace of Bangor, which refurbishes commercial turboprop and jet aircraft and provides aircraft parts and repair services, has been awarded a $1.2 million federal grant that the company will use to expand the business and create at least 50 new jobs.

Laughlin said his role in boosting the state’s economy has become increasingly important to him in recent years.

“I’ve decided that one of my primary goals as a businessman is to bring jobs to Maine,” he said.

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