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A Down East city wants to get passenger air service to and from Portland

Tropical Weather
Michael C. York
Activity was limited around the working waterfront at Eastport, Maine, Sunday, September 28, 2008, as residents are waiting for possible storm surges from Hurricane Kyle.

The city of Eastport says it wants to bring in a small airline to the local airport to offer flights to and from Portland.

Ron DeFilippo, vice chair of Eastport's Airport Advisory Committee, says the city will apply for federal grant money to help make it happen.

"We need to create business, jobs and our emphasis this time around will be to tell the people in Washington that," DeFilippo says. "I don't want to say 'We're dying on the vine' but an increase in tourism would help dramatically."

Eastport city councilors approved hiring a consultant to help the Airport Advisory Committee navigate the grant process to secure a positive outcome. Last year Eastport spent nearly $6 million in federal grant funds to rebuild its airport runway.

Ron DeFilippo says tourism is the region's best hope for economic growth and regular flights will help bring tourists to the region.

"We had an economic development and growth study done thanks to a USDA grant back in 2019 that identified tourism as our number one source of growth, if we're going to accomplish any growth," he says.

DeFilippo says regular flights will also help residents get to specialized medical facilities in Portland and attract better quality doctors to the Eastport region.

Carol Bousquet