Portland International Jetport Article

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Portland International Jetport
Portland International Jetport Logo.svg
KPWM Aerial Wiki.jpg
Airport typePublic
Owner/OperatorCity of Portland
Serves Portland, Maine
Location Portland, Maine
Elevation  AMSL76 ft / 23 m
Coordinates 43°38′46″N 070°18′33″W / 43.64611°N 70.30917°W / 43.64611; -70.30917

43°38′46″N 070°18′33″W / 43.64611°N 70.30917°W / 43.64611; -70.30917
Website www.portlandjetport.org
PWM is located in Maine
PWM is located in the US
Direction Length Surface
ft m
11/29 7,200 2,195 Asphalt
18/36 6,100 1,859 Asphalt
Total Passengers Served (2016)1,785,649
Aircraft Operations (2016)45,472
Based Aircraft (2017)46
Cargo handled (2016)20,172,289 lbs.
Source: Federal Aviation Administration [1] and Portland Jetport. [2]

Portland International Jetport ( IATA: PWM, ICAO: KPWM, FAA LID: PWM) is a public airport two miles (3 km) west of downtown Portland, in Cumberland County, Maine. It is owned and operated by the city of Portland. A portion of the Jetport's property, including the main runway, is in the neighboring city of South Portland. [3] [1] PWM covers 726 acres (293 ha) of land. [1]

The airport is the busiest in the state. In 2018, the jetport handled more than 2 million passengers for the first time, breaking the previous record of 1.86 million set in 2017. [4] In recent years, the Jetport has benefited from service by low-cost carriers such as Southwest Airlines and JetBlue, as well as Portland's increased popularity as a tourist destination. A survey conducted in June 2011 found PWM to be the most affordable airport in the region, and the third most affordable in New England. [5] In October 2011, PWM completed a $75 million renovation and expansion of its terminal to allow more airline service and more amenities for passengers. [6]


Early years

Postcard view c.1940s

The airfield was founded in the late 1920s by Dr. Clifford "Kip" Strange, who needed space for his JN-4 "Jenny" Biplane. Known as Stroudwater Airport, the airport received its first commercial service on August 1, 1931, when Boston-Maine Airways began a flight from Portland to Boston. [7] In 1937 the city of Portland purchased the airfield for $68,471 [8] and changed its name to Portland-Westbrook Municipal Airport. "Westbrook" referred to the location of the last directional light before the airport in the nearby city of Westbrook.

The New Deal. In January 1934, a state wide airport survey was conducted by Captain Harry M. Jones of the Maine Emergency Relief Administration (MERA), a state division of the Federal New Deal public works programs launched in November 1933. MERA expended $816,376 across the state on labor in airport construction in the period April 1934 to July 1935. 2 runways were constructed at Portland Municipal Airport by MERA, 1 N.S. 2,400'x 100' gravel runway and 1 E.W. 1,500'x 100' gravel runway. In the summer of 1935 the MERA aviation program had made possible the extension of the Boston-Portland-Augusta-Waterville-Bangor mail service to Bar Harbor, where an airport had been constructed by the MERA. [9] The Portland town report of 1938 reported that the building of the runways and grading of the field were by W.P.A. labor and the city furnished part of the material. [10] In 1940, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) built Portland’s first real terminal, a brick structure that is now the general aviation terminal.” According to Portland Town Reports the WPA conducted two projects sponsored by the city “Improve municipal airport” Official Project Number: 165‐1‐11‐111 Total project cost: $669,295.00 “Complete construction of airport” Official Project Number: 65‐1‐11‐2213 Total project cost: $93,335.00" [11]

The present airport started to take shape in the 1950s. The March 1951 chart shows runway 1 4260 ft long, runway 10 2900 ft, and runway 15 4010 ft. Runway 11/29 was built in 1957 and lengthened to 6,800 feet (2,073 m) in 1966. The current terminal opened in 1968, when jet flights began. [12]

1960s – 1970s

Northeast Airlines long had a monopoly on commercial air travel in Portland, dating to its time as Boston-Maine Airways. [7] Another airline emerged in 1962, when Atlantic Airways began service to Boston's Logan International Airport. [13] This competition was short lived—there is no other information about the airline other than one timetable.

Jet flights began in 1968, and for the first time, Portland got a nonstop beyond Boston when Northeast DC-9s flew to LaGuardia Airport in New York. Northeast would be alone at the airport until 1970 when Aroostook Airways began flights between Presque Isle and Portland, with stops in Augusta and Bangor. [14] This airline too faded into obscurity, lasting until 1972.

That year regional Air New England began service in Portland, competing with Northeast Airlines intrastate and between Portland and Boston. [15]

In 1972 Northeast Airlines was bought by Delta Air Lines which retained its routes to Bangor, Boston, and New York. [16] [17] By 1979 Delta had added Burlington, Vermont.

1980s – 1990s

In 1981 Air New England, after serving Portland for 11 years ceased operations and pulled out of the Jetport. This departure was followed a year later by the arrival of Air Vermont, a regional carrier that flew between Portland and Burlington until expiring about 1983 or 1984.

In 1980 the passenger terminal expanded to the east with the addition of two baggage carousels. The building also expanded to the west by adding three-second-level jetways and a holding room. [18]

In 1982 PWM got its first nonstop beyond New York, when Delta tried a 727 to Cincinnati for a year or so.

People Express Airlines arrived in 1983, the first jet competitor to Northeast/Delta at PWM. The airline, the first low-cost carrier at the Jetport, was known for rock-bottom prices. The airline flew between Portland and Newark, still operated today by United Airlines who merged with Continental Airlines, which had bought People Express in 1987.

In June 1983 United Airlines arrived in Portland, planning to be the only airline to serve 50 states. It originally flew the Burlington route that had been left behind by Air Vermont and later flew nonstop to Chicago.

That same year, regional Ransome Airlines, doing business as Delta Connection, began a route between Portland and Boston. This ended in 1986 when Ransome was bought by Pan Am and renamed Pan Am Express.

1986 also brought US Airways (then USAir), who began flights to Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. [19] [20] Low-cost carrier Presidential Airways also began service from the Jetport in 1986, flying a route from Portland to Washington's Dulles International Airport. [21] This would be short-lived, however, as Presidential Airways ceased operations by the end of the decade.

1987 saw the arrival of Continental Airlines when the airline bought People Express and took over their routes. It saw the beginning of Business Express, a commuter airline offering service from Portland to Boston, New York–La Guardia, and Presque Isle, originally independently, and then doing business as Delta Connection. [20]

In 1995 a terminal building improvement project was undertaken to add two-second-level boarding gates, as well as additional space for ticketing, operations, departure lounge, concessions, and an international customs facility. [18]


Interior of Car Rental

In the wake of the September 11 attacks, many U.S. airlines cut flights. This furthered the airlines' shift from mainline jets to smaller regional jets or turboprops at PWM. In late 2002 American Eagle stopped flying to the Jetport.

In 2004, Runway 11/29 was lengthened to 7,200 feet (2,195 m).

On September 1, 2005, Delta Air Lines ended mainline service to PWM. Despite the airline's strong history at Portland, serving the Jetport with aircraft as large as the Boeing 727 and 757, Delta briefly downgraded flights subcontracting to smaller aircraft operated by Delta Connection on Bombardier CRJ series. In the late 2000s and continuing today, Delta reinstated mainline service at Portland.

Some service began to return as the industry's economics improved between 2005 and 2006. The first step up came with the introduction of the low cost carrier Independence Air in 2005. On May 1, 2005, Independence added a daily flight to Washington Dulles on an Airbus A319, making them the first carrier to fly an Airbus out of Portland. Portland was one of the few markets that Independence Air consistently served with its A319s, and at the time of its bankruptcy, Portland was rumored to be one of its few profitable destinations. [22] FedEx Express also began using an Airbus A310 widebody jet on its cargo flights to Memphis later that year, although the company primarily uses a 757 for those flights today.

After Independence Air went bankrupt, Portland had no low-cost carrier, causing fares to go up and passenger numbers to decline. [23] Capitalizing on the underserved market, JetBlue Airways began service to Portland on May 23, 2006, with four daily flights to New York–JFK aboard Airbus A320 and Embraer 190 jets. This made the Airline become the second-largest air carrier at the Jetport (in terms of available seats) nearly overnight. This addition of service inspired what is known as The Southwest Effect, where the addition of a large number of low-cost seats in a market forces down the price of competing tickets.

On June 7, 2007, AirTran Airways began seasonal service to Baltimore, and to Orlando. AirTran was the second low-cost carrier in Portland, competing with JetBlue. This was Portland's first scheduled non-stop flight to Florida. AirTran serves the Jetport with Boeing 717s and 737s. At the same time as AirTran's arrival, JetBlue announced that it would be adding a fifth flight to New York City, further increasing the number of available low-cost seats. On September 26, 2007, JetBlue announced a daily direct flight to Orlando, using its Embraer 190, beginning in January 2008. The year 2007 was a record high for Portland, as the added service posted a 17% increase in passengers from the year before. [24]

In 2008. Delta Air Lines resumed mainline service to Portland, a daily flight to Atlanta on a McDonnell Douglas MD-88. A regional startup, New England Air Transport (NEAT) began intrastate air service, flying three times weekly to Aroostook County with a Piper Chieftain. [25] This was the first intrastate service offered out of Portland in more than a decade. [25] With these increases, 2008 also saw a number of losses of service, with air traffic in an overall decline as the airline industry scaled back due to the Great Recession.

At the onset of 2009, international service resumed. Starlink Aviation announced service between Portland and Halifax, Nova Scotia and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia to begin in February of that year. In fall 2009, PWM built an official plane spotting area on Aviation Boulevard in South Portland, allowing aircraft enthusiasts to observe flights arriving and departing. [26] Prior to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, plane spotters observed Jetport activity from Jetport Plaza Road and Jetport Access Road, but such activity was subsequently prohibited in the wake of the attacks due to security concerns. [26] The official plane spotting area includes a sign depicting some of the passenger aircraft typically seen at the Jetport. [26]


In 2010 Starlink Aviation ended its service to Yarmouth and Halifax, Nova Scotia, citing the loss of a Canadian subsidy. Soon after Starlink ended their service, a Maine-based company, Twin Cities Air Service, began flying between Portland and Yarmouth on a semi-daily basis. This began on March 15, 2010. [27] Twin Cities ceased its scheduled service out of PWM in December 2012 but continues to offer the route on a charter basis.

Also in 2010, Air Canada announced that it would be launching a number of new routes out of Toronto, Canada including a flight to Portland. The twice-daily Portland-Toronto service began on May 17, 2010, operated by Air Georgian using Beechcraft 1900D aircraft. [28] Air Canada pulled out of Portland on March 1, 2013, once again leaving PWM without scheduled international service.

The Jetport began construction on its expanded terminal as well as several infrastructure improvements in 2010. Major expansion of the airline terminal – which had already been expanded at least twice [29] – took place throughout 2010 and 2011. The expanded terminal opened to the public on October 2, 2011. [6] The $75 million project, [6] designed by Gensler and built by Turner Construction, [30] brought a number of changes, including improvements to the check-in areas and security, reconfiguration of the airport access road and terminal roads, and rehabilitation and expansion of the parking garage. The new terminal features a geothermal heating and cooling system – the largest of its kind in Maine – which is expected to reduce the Jetport's consumption of heating oil by up to 102,000 gallons per year. [31] Expansion and improvements are also planned or are in-work for the General Aviation ramp, enlarging the cargo ramp and facilities, re-configuring the alignment of taxiways, improving the airport's deicing facilities, and lengthening Runway 18/36.

A survey conducted in June 2011 by travel website Cheapflights found PWM to be an affordable airport in the region compared to ( Manchester, Bangor, and Logan), and the third most affordable in New England (behind Bradley and T. F. Green). [5]

Terminal at PWM
FBO terminal at PWM

Airlines and destinations


American Airlines Charlotte, Philadelphia [32]
American Eagle Charlotte, New York–LaGuardia, Philadelphia, Washington–National
Seasonal: Chicago–O’Hare
Delta Air Lines Atlanta, Detroit [32]
Delta Connection Detroit, New York–JFK, New York–LaGuardia [32]
Elite Airways Orlando/Melbourne, Sarasota [33] [32]
Frontier Airlines Orlando, [34]
Seasonal: Denver, Fort Myers [35] Raleigh/Durham, [36] Tampa
JetBlue Airways Seasonal: New York–JFK [37] [32]
Southwest Airlines Baltimore
Seasonal: Chicago–Midway, Orlando
United Airlines Newark
Seasonal: Chicago–O'Hare, Washington–Dulles
United Express Chicago–O'Hare, Newark, Washington–Dulles [32]


FedEx Express Boeing 757 at Portland Jetport.
FedEx Express Burlington (VT), Memphis
FedEx Feeder Bangor, Hartford, Manchester (NH), Presque Isle


Top destinations

Busiest domestic routes from PWM (July 2017 – June 2018) [38]
Rank Airport Passengers Carriers
1 Baltimore, Maryland 145,600 Southwest
2 New York–JFK, New York 107,200 Delta, JetBlue
3 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 101,680 American
4 Newark, New Jersey 92,910 United
5 Atlanta, Georgia 88,760 Delta
6 Charlotte, North Carolina 84,610 American
7 Washington–National, D.C. 80,500 American
8 New York–La Guardia, New York 67,190 American, Delta
9 Detroit, Michigan 59,650 Delta
10 Chicago–O'Hare, Illinois 54,400 American, United

Annual traffic

Traffic by calendar year [2]
Passengers Change from previous year Aircraft operations Cargo
2004 1,365,078 Steady 90,241 33,622,563
2005 1,455,925 Increase 6.65% 80,257 34,039,601
2006 1,410,484 Decrease 3.12% 77,422 34,895,067
2007 1,650,581 Increase 17.02% 72,985 40,257,808
2008 1,762,925 Increase 6.81% 73,776 35,295,151
2009 1,736,941 Decrease 1.47% 62,160 26,279,198
2010 1,707,426 Decrease 1.70% 60,257 22,673,881
2011 1,674,814 Decrease 1.91% 57,143 22,011,670
2012 1,671,826 Decrease 0.18% 54,566 22,405,912
2013 1,675,978 Increase 0.25% 51,568 24,520,880
2014 1,667,734 Decrease 0.49% 46,633 24,070,425
2015 1,728,746 Increase 3.66% 48,898 25,819,083
2016 1,785,649 Increase 3.29% 50,993 20,172,829

Historical service

Historical Service
Airline Year(s) Notes Reference
Boston-Maine Airways 1931–1941 [7]
Northeast Airlines 1941–1972 Boston-Maine Airways rebranded as Northeast Airlines [7]
Atlantic Airways 1962 [13]
Aroostook Airways 1970 [14]
Air New England 1970–1981 [15]
Bar Harbor Airlines 1972–1990 Part of Eastern Express [39]
Delta Air Lines 1972–present [40]
Northeast Express Regional Airlines 1974–1995 Northeast Express Regional Airlines was bought by Northwest Airlines [41]
Air Vermont 1982–1985 [42]
People Express 1983–1987 Bought by Continental Airlines [43]
Ransome Airlines 1984–unknown Operated as Delta Connection [44]
United Airlines 1984–present [45]
Presidential Airways 1986 Bought by Continental Airlines [21]
US Airways 1986–2015 Merged with American Airlines [46]
Continental Airlines 1987–2012 Merged with United Airlines [47]
Business Express 1987–2000 Became part of American Eagle [48]
Canadian Airlines International 1989–unknown Operated by Air Atlantic [49]
Trans World Express 1989–1993 Operated by Metro Airlines Northeast [50]
Northwest Airlines 1999–2010 Merged with Delta Air Lines [51]
American Eagle 1999–2002 Original service ended in 2002. Service resumed in 2015 as part of it the American-US Airways merger. [52]
TWA 1999–2000 Bought by American Airlines [53]
Air Nova 1999–2001 Became Air Canada Jazz [54]
Independence Air 2004–2006 Ceased operations [55]
JetBlue Airways 2006–present [56]
AirTran Airways 2007–2013 Acquired by Southwest Airlines, operations converted to Southwest [57]
New England Air Transport 2008–2009 [25]
Starlink Aviation 2009 [58] [59]
Twin Cities Air Service 2010–2012 [60]
Air Canada 2010–2013 Operated by Air Georgian [61]
Southwest Airlines 2013–present
Elite Airways 2015–present
Frontier Airlines 2018–present

Ground transportation

The airport is accessible from I-95 (the Maine Turnpike) and I-295. The jetport provides multiple ground lots as well as two parking garages. [62] A shuttle bus service called The Portland Explorer provides access to area hotels and to other local transportation, such as the Amtrak Downeaster train service, and Concord Coach Lines intercity bus service at the Portland Transportation Center.

Accidents and incidents

  • On July 11, 1944, at 4:45 PM, [63] U.S. Army Lt. Phillip "Phee" Russell was attempting to land his Douglas A-26 Invader at PWM. For reasons that were never fully determined, Russell lost control of the plane and crashed into a trailer park in South Portland's Brick Hill neighborhood. 19 people were killed and 20 people were injured – mostly women and children – making it the worst aviation accident in Maine history. [64] [65] The Long Creek Air Tragedy Memorial was erected in 2010 to honor the victims of the accident.
  • During the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the Jetport was the starting point of American Airlines Flight 11 hijackers Mohamed Atta and Abdulaziz al-Omari's travels, as they flew from the Jetport to Boston on a Colgan Air commuter flight, before hijacking Flight 11 out of Boston. Their rental car, a Nissan Altima, was later taken from the Jetport. The reasons for the flight to Boston are unknown, as Atta and al-Omari had to pass through security again on the itinerary at Logan International Airport prior to boarding the American Airlines flight.
  • On July 17, 2010, at around 3:27 PM, [66] an Aerostar Yak-52 with registration number N52MY [67] [68] – a two-person, single-engine aircraft – crashed near a South Portland shopping plaza, a few hundred feet from the Jetport. [69] The plane had just taken off from the Jetport's main runway after making several touch-and-go landings [66] and was apparently trying to return to the Jetport due to a mechanical problem. Both occupants of the plane were killed. There were no injuries on the ground. [70] [71] NTSB investigators say the plane's propeller was not turning at the time of impact. [72] The owner and pilot of the plane, Mark Haskell, was an air traffic controller at PWM. [73] The passenger in the plane, Thomas Casagrande, was a certified flight instructor and retired military test pilot who was conducting Haskell's recertification that day. [73] The sign at the Jetport's plane spotting area is dedicated in memory of Haskell. [26] The NTSB determined the probable cause of the accident to be the pilot's failure to maintain adequate airspeed during an emergency return to the airport following a total loss of engine power. [74]
PWM Fire Department demonstration, 2005.
New Security Area at PWM.


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External links