Just ahead of tourist season, Alaska deals with rental car shortage

Published: May. 2, 2021 at 6:53 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) -Alaska will offer visitors plenty of spectacular view this summer. Getting to them may be a bit challenging.

“We have no cars, and more tourists than ever,” said Steven Craig, manager of Alaska 4X4 Rentals at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. “We just have more and more reservations, more and more clients. We just never slowed down.”

We tried to book one week rentals starting on June 18th, and July 9th to see how serious a problem it is. No luck. It’s a similar story with all the other rental car agencies at the airport. But, there is some hope.

“We still have some availability into August,” Craig said. “Then sporadically, depending on the dates, throughout the summer. But not very much.”

It’s a similar story around the country during the pandemic.

“You have a lot of people who just want to get out, and go somewhere,” said Craig.

What cars are available will cost you a lot more rent compared to last year. Prices, in some cases, have doubled or even tripled.

A computer chip shortage in March forced temporary shutdowns at U.S. auto plants. That delayed shipments of new cars, including those for Alaska 4x4, and other rental agencies. Craig expects to see his new cars around the end of August, which is pretty much the end of the summer tourist season.

“We have a perfect storm of supply and demand,” Craig said. “We have a lot of tourists coming up here. Unfortunately, the supply of vehicles is low.”

That will make it a bit tougher for many people to get around Alaska this summer.

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