BMA-"Subsidized airline sued for late rent at Maryland airport"
USAToday Travel News
Posted 12:15 p.m. ET
- Wednesday Good news, bad news for Pan Am Pan American Airways added five daily flights from Baltimore-Washington (BWI
) to Martha's Vineyard (MVY), giving it a total of six flights a day to the exclusive Massachusetts island. But the news wasn't as good for two airports in western Maryland. Pan Am affiliate Boston-Maine Airways says it will likely have to end its service from BWI
to Hagerstown (HGR) and Cumberland (CBE) after a state subsidy runs out, according to The Associated Press. The airline is 11 months and more than $35,000 behind on its rent at Hagerstown, and says passenger loads at Cumberland are too low to be profitable.
The Associated Press Copyright 2003 . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
03/28/2003 - Updated 09:06 AM ET
Subsidized airline sued for late rent at Maryland airport
HAGERSTOWN, Md. (AP
) — The state-subsidized airline linking western Maryland to Baltimore is 11 months and more than $35,000 behind on its rent at Hagerstown Regional Airport, a lawsuit filed by Washington County claims.
Boston-Maine Airways also is in arrears at the Greater Cumberland Regional Airport, interim airport manager C. William Armstrong said Thursday, although he declined to specify the amount.
Daniel Fortnam, Boston-Maine's vice president for sales and marketing, did not immediately return telephone calls from The Associated Press to the company's headquarters in Portsmouth, N.H.
The news follows a recent report that Boston-Maine is likely to end the western Maryland service after June 30, when its $4.25 million taxpayer subsidy is set to expire.
The company operates three Pan Am Clipper Connection flights daily between Cumberland, Hagerstown and Baltimore-Washington International Airport. The commuter service began in late December 2001 under a state contract aimed at fostering economic development.
Launched at a time of traveler skittishness over the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the 19-passenger flights have not drawn enough customers to reach the 45 percent load factor needed to break even, according to a December 2002 Maryland Aviation Administration report.
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Washington County Circuit Court, seeks $42,406 in back rent, late fees and legal fees from May 2002 through this month.
"The plaintiff has demanded payment from the defendant, but the defendant has refused, and does continue to fail and refuse to pay the same as agreed in the lease," the complaint states.
Armstrong said Boston-Maine also is in arrears at the Cumberland airport, located in nearby Wiley Ford, W.Va., but no lawsuit has been filed.
"Suffice it to say we're making every effort we can to work with BMA
through the fulfillment of their contract," Armstrong said.
On Sunday, the Cumberland Times-News quoted James Stahl, chairman of the authority that operates the Cumberland airport, as saying Boston-Maine has indicated it won't be able to continue the service after the subsidy ends unless it gets many more passengers or local financial help.
In January, Fortnam and Hagerstown airport manager Carolyn Motz, expressed confidence that Boston-Maine would be financially self- sufficient by June 30. Motz said on Thursday she was confident the back rent would be paid.
"I have no doubts now and I had no doubts then," she said.
The carrier recently added routes between Baltimore and coastal New England points, which Motz said should increase its appeal to western Marylanders.
"If the communities that surround Hagerstown and Cumberland want this service to stay here, they need to use it, and then the other things will take care of themselves," she said.