Bangor International Airport Receives License Allowing Transit Stops on Flights to and from Cuba

The license, which Senator Collins supported, will create new opportunities for the Bangor Airport and workers

Washington, D.C.—U.S. Senator Susan Collins, the Chairman of the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee, announced today that the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued a license to Bangor International Airport, allowing the airport to provide refueling and services for flights to and from Cuba.  Senator Collins wrote to OFAC and the State Department in support of Bangor Airport’s application for this license, and she has authored legislation to allow U.S. airports to serve as transit stops.

“Under the travel ban, foreign air carriers traveling to or from Cuba were prevented from refueling and receiving services at U.S. airports, forcing many to bypass airports like the Bangor International Airport and choose Canadian airports instead,” said Senator Collins.  “I have long advocated that the U.S. permit these non-traffic transit stops, and I am delighted that the Treasury Department has finally issued this license, which will allow the Bangor Airport to compete for airlines’ business and help create jobs in Eastern Maine.”

“Bangor is very excited to hear that our license has been approved to handle Cuba flights on a technical stop basis. This will allow us to compete on a fair and level playing field with Canadian airports,” said Anthony Caruso Jr., Airport Director of Bangor International Airport.  “This traffic will result in added business for the airport. We want to thank Senator Collins and the rest of Maine’s Congressional Delegation for their efforts and support.”

During these transit stops, passengers do not disembark the plane and no new passengers board the aircraft.  Yet, these stops are valuable for airports and their employees who can offer fuel, de-icing, catering, and crew services.  By not permitting transit stops, the U.S. was out of compliance with several international transportation agreements, including the Chicago Convention and the U.S.-EU Open Skies Agreement.  Permitting these stops would not result in any incremental benefits to Cuba because these flights currently make transit stops in Canada. 

In April of 2015, Senator Collins wrote to OFAC in support of Bangor Airport’s application.  In June of 2016, Senator Collins wrote a follow-up letter to OFAC and the State Department to renew her support for Bangor Airport’s application and strongly urge the Administration to allow transit stops at U.S. airports.

In May of 2016, Senators Collins and Angus King introduced legislation that would permit foreign air carriers traveling to or from Cuba to make non-traffic, transit stops in the United States, which was based on an earlier amendment the Senators introduced.  During a Senate Appropriations Committee markup in June, Senator Collins introduced her legislation as an amendment, which was successfully adopted as part of the Financial Services and General Government appropriations bill.