BEVERLY — Starting next month, a trip from Beverly to Nantucket or Martha's Vineyard could take you under 45 minutes.
Beverly Airport is planning to start a new commuter air service with flights to those island destinations, and perhaps future flights to places like Bar Harbor and New York City.
Airport Manager Gloria Bouillon said the new service has been approved by the Federal Aviation Administration and could begin by mid-August.
"It's very exciting," she said.
Bouillon said she could not reveal all of the details of the service now, but said it would involve small planes that carry eight to 10 passengers making regularly scheduled trips to various destinations. She said Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard will most likely be on the schedule at first. A survey about the service on the airport's website lists Bar Harbor, New York City and Providence as other possible destinations.
Bouillon would not say how much the flights will cost, but said tickets will be "affordable."
"We're targeting the market at the right price," she said.
Bouillon said there is a demand in this area for the service from both business and vacation travelers. "People don't want to use Logan or drive all the way to the Cape or use the ferry and take half a day or a day to travel," she said. "People in this area just do not want to deal with the travel and the hassle."
Bouillon said a company will lease space at Beverly Airport to run the service. She declined to name the company at this time. An announcement and a ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held hopefully in mid-August, she said.
Bouillon said businesses or individuals can currently charter a plane out of Beverly Airport to go to certain destinations. But she said the new service will offer a regular schedule of flights that people can buy tickets for. She said passengers will be able to arrive at the airport just 20 minutes before their flight leaves and park for free. The airport's administration building will be retrofitted for passenger service.
"It will take passengers less than five to 10 minutes to get to the plane," Bouillon said. "They can arrive 20 minutes before their flight and get to Nantucket in less than 40 minutes. Going to Logan could be a three- or four-hour adventure."
Bouillon said the new service will not increase the number of flights at Beverly Airport or impact neighbors.
"These are planes that already operate at the airport, so we're not looking at turning into the next Logan," she said. "But we are looking at being a convenient way to travel to some of these high-demand areas."
Beverly Airport recently announced plans to lengthen its main runway by 600 feet as part of a $20 million effort to upgrade the city-owned airport in the next few years. The lengthening will take place on current airport land and will not increase the footprint of the 470-acre airport, officials have said.
The number of takeoffs and landings at Beverly Airport actually increased during the pandemic, with more than 69,000 takeoffs and landings in 2020. Airport officials have predicted a "modest" annual growth rate of 1.2% over the next 20 years, according to a presentation at a public meeting in January that was held as part of the development of a new master plan. Beverly Airport is third in operations in the state behind Logan Airport and Hanscom Field in Bedford.
Joseph Rinaldi, who lives in Danvers on Anthony Road and has spoken out against noise problems at the airport in the past, said he does not necessarily object to the new commuter air service. He said the big problem in his neighborhood is all of the "touch and go" training maneuvers by student pilots that constantly go over his house.
"I wouldn't be opposed to it as long as they respect the neighborhoods that might be affected," Rinaldi said. "If it becomes like we're seeing now with the touch-and-go's, that's not a good thing."
Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2535, by email at email@example.com, or on Twitter at @heardinbeverly.