Anchorage airport reports promising passenger numbers over summer

Published: Nov. 9, 2021 at 9:18 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The COVID-19 pandemic was difficult for Alaska’s tourism industry, but 2021 could provide hope as the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport announced an uptick of 877,351 more passengers this summer from May to September compared to 2020.

“The terminal was very busy this summer, so we knew it was going to be a good summer,” said Airport Manager Jim Szczesniak. “... It’s important for us to kind of look at that data and be able to translate that into an economic benefit for the state.”

While 2021 summer passenger numbers fell short of what the airport saw before the pandemic, Szczesniak felt the increase in travelers made an economic impact, something the travel group Visit Anchorage saw, too.

“If you look at something like hotel demand over the summer through September, we made gains of about 47% over 2020, which is just shy of where we were before COVID got going and prior to the pandemic,” Visit Anchorage Community Engagement Director Jack Bonney said. “So we made some really encouraging gains, but we’re not back to where we were pre-pandemic.”

He added this summer went better than expected from a tourism perspective, and he’s remaining cautiously optimistic for the future.

“I think as long as we stay on a positive course, we have a lot of really encouraging indicators for next year, but so much of this is tied up in national and global developments around the pandemic,” Bonney said.

Heading into 2022, Szczesniak is hopeful the airport will continue to see strong passenger numbers with expanded cruises and international travel expected next year.

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