Delta Air Lines has decided to cut in half the number of passenger seats available to travelers flying from Bangor International Airport to Boston.
Beginning April 8, Delta will utilize a 19-seat turbo-propeller plane in place of the 50-seat passenger jets that have to date flown the route from BIA to Boston's Logan International Airport, said Kent Landers, spokesman for Delta.
The turboprop planes will operate four times a day instead of three. But even if each turboprop flight is filled, the airline can provide service to only 76 people a day, compared to the current 150. On Saturdays, which are low-demand travel days, the airline will offer only three flights to Boston, Landers said.
"It is unfortunate, obviously," said Tony Caruso, assistant director at BIA. "We would prefer jet service over turboprop service, but we understand Delta's reasoning as re-emerging from bankruptcy. It's a business decision, but we hope it's short-term."
Delta officials said in order to keep their business cost-effective, they must match customer demand with an appropriately sized aircraft. This includes increasing the frequency of flights and cutting the number of seats available.
Delta's numbers were "weak" last year at BIA, where it operated at only 64 percent capacity, Caruso said.
"Flying the right size airplanes in the right market is core to any airline," Landers said.
Passengers flying the route will be able to choose among 6 a.m., 10:45 a.m., 3 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. departure times. The turboprop planes operate more efficiently and fly at lower altitudes, which can help avoid New England air traffic congestion, Landers said.
The airline also has routes to Cincinnati and Atlanta from BIA and will continue to fly jet aircraft to those destinations, Landers said.
BIA will continue to have jet service to Boston through American Eagle, Caruso said.
The downsizing does not indicate Delta is pulling out of the Bangor market, Caruso said. In fact, BIA officials hope to add Delta service to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.
Landers denied the cuts were a direct result of US Airways' proposed hostile takeover of the airline, which is emerging from bankruptcy.
"We are always trying to make good business decisions," Landers said. "This decision is not directly tied to any sort of financial consideration."
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