Why Bangor International Airport is the diversion destination | News

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Why Bangor International Airport is the diversion destination

BANGOR, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- With just three domestic gates, the Bangor Internationl Airport may be small -- but it has a large responsibilty when trans-Atlantic flights have emergencies.

Since 2004, BIA has accepted 626 diverted flights.

"The Bangor name is known worldwide," said Airport Director Tony Caruso.

Most diversions are due to low fuel, inclimate weather, maintence, and medical emergencies.

Out of the 626, only 21 diversions have been security emergencies.

Most recently, BIA handled a flight diversion from Paris. A French woman on board claimed she had a surgically implanted device in her body that could be a threat to other people.

Caruso said there are several reasons Bangor has become the choice for diverted planes.

Because of its northeast location, BIA is one of the first stops crossing the Atlantic Ocean.

Relative to its size, BIA's runway is large. The airport inherited the runway from a military base.

"We can handle anything that flies today," said Caruso.

The BIA staff is also trained to handle different types of diversion responses.

The airport staff does an internal exercise every year. Once every three years, the airport staff puts on a mock exercise with cooperating agencies to practice emercency response.

For some passengers, the airport staff's extra training provides a sense of security.

"I think the fact that it's a secure enough airport that they would divert planes here -- it's a good thing," said Elissa Garde, as she waited to pick up her father from the airport Sunday morning.

Drake Dobson, a six-year-old watching his grandparents' flight take off, said he also feels safer.

After last Tuesday's flight diversion from Paris, his parents explained why the plane came to Bangor.

"It makes me feel safer because they won't let anybody that's going crazy on the plane," said Dobson.

As much training as the staff has, there are some evolving challenges.

Caruso said because nearly every passenger has a cell phone -- many with Facebook and Twitter capabilities -- passengers are able to alert civilians and the media about potential security threats as they unfold.

"With folks being able to tweet and Facebook -- it does certainly pose another challenge...in how to manage these types of incidents," said Caruso.