A Small Airport Takes on Big Emergencies
Trouble lands here, sometimes twice a week.
Airline flights with security threats, sick passengers and mechanical problems often end up at Bangor International Airport—the first or last major airport in the U.S. for the hundreds of flights across the Atlantic Ocean every day. Flights that are running low on fuel or need to wait out bad weather at their destinations put down here, too.
As a result, the airport in Bangor (pop. 35,000) is prepared for almost anything. Even though the airport has no scheduled international flights, it has a large international terminal with four empty gates. Customs and Border Protection officers are available on short notice, and a food stand sits ready with two cash registers. Two years ago, the airport bought a $700,000 heavy-duty tug capable of towing and pushing the largest jets in the world, including the Airbus A380 super jumbo jet.
Stopping by Bangor
Dominick Reuter for The Wall Street Journal
The former Air Force base has an 11,440-foot-long runway—longer than anything at Boston’s Logan International Airport.
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“I hate to use the word routine, but we work these flights all the time,” said Anthony Caruso, interim airport director. “We plan for it. We train for it. The federal agencies understand Bangor’s role in this kind of incident.”
At Bangor, airport workers are trained to do both their regular jobs and pitch in for gate agent duty or baggage handling and even de-icing for the unexpected visiting jumbo jets. A local bus tour company has an agreement with the airport to bus passengers on short notice. (If it isn’t available, school buses are mobilized.)
The small-city airport is served by only three airlines, with about 20 regularly scheduled flights each day—most on 50-seat regional jets. But it has an 11,440-foot-long runway—longer than anything at Boston’s Logan International Airport. It has heavy-duty firefighting equipment and two nearby hospitals.