New Hampshire airport to trim construction

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Portsmouth, New Hampshire’s airport authority will scale back plans to upgrade Portsmouth International airport following the demise of the airport’s only commercial carrier, Skybus Airlines.

Citing high fuel costs, Startup Skybus ceased operations last week and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on 7 April.

The Airbus A319 operator linked Portsmouth with its bases in Columbus, Ohio and Greensboro, North Carolina, as well as the Florida destinations St Augustine and Punta Gorda.

Last month Pease Development Authority approved a $3.9-million contract to construct a third gate at the airport, and the rearranging of space to more than double the size of an existing gate. The contract also included the purchase of a second baggage carousel.

Portsmouth International airport manager Bill Hopper says in light of Skybus’ departure, the airport will instead focus on reconfiguring existing space because it no longer needs increased baggage screening nor ticketing areas.

The contract price might be renegotiated since less work is needed, he explains.

The airport board will make a final decision on 17 April.

Saying the Skybus shutdown “came as a complete shock”, Hopper points to the carrier’s 80% load factors on flights from Portsmouth to Columbus between May and October. Loads to Florida, which launched from Portsmouth in January of this year, were also around 80% he says.