The Presque Isle International Airport is pictured in this October 2021 file photo. Credit: Melissa Lizotte / Houlton Pioneer Times

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Presque Isle International Airport made more than half a million dollars above the 2019 revenues in 2021, despite the challenges that came with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Presque Isle airport recorded $3,163,267 in revenue in 2021, seeing an increase in fuel sales and paid parking over the last year compared with 2019, when it made $2,599,989 That marks a revenue increase of $563,278 from 2019 to 2021.

The city of Presque Isle is in a contract with  United Airlines to provide passenger service. While United covers the international airport, Presque Isle also has a general aviation terminal that accommodates private and corporate aircrafts. The uptick in revenue is a welcome change from the 62 percent decrease in passengers at airports across the country —- including Presque Isle — in 2020 due to the pandemic.

“Our Canadian customers are coming back,” said Presque Isle Airport Director Scott Wardwell. “Now that (COVID-19) restrictions are easing up, most of the categories we look at for revenue are at or above what we were at in 2019.”

People are ready to travel again too, he said.

In December 2021, the airport had the highest number of boardings for that month since 2006. Parking sales also saw a 2 percent increase compared with 2019 as well. In January and February 2022, boardings softened due to the COVID-19 resurgence across the country.

But that didn’t stop the airport from seeing a 64 percent increase in fuel sales in January, and a 41 percent increase in February. March has been a very successful month as well, Wardwell said.

The airport doesn’t just sell fuel to planes that are coming in, but it is also seeing more flights that have Canadians and others needing to check items through U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Passenger numbers were much lower in the beginning of 2021 during the pandemic, but the airport started seeing a rise in passengers in June, and had a very strong July and August.

The airport is on track in 2022 to outperform 2021 — performing better than pre-pandemic, according to Wardwell’s estimations.

“This year is looking good, and we are really happy about it,” Wardwell said.

David grew up in New York, and moved to Maine to study political science at the University of Maine. In his spare time, he loves hiking, playing tennis and skiing.