A plane lands at Juneau International Airport on May 25, 2021, as the number of travelers in the state started to rise after the lockdowns of 2020. Travel numbers are not back up to their pre-pandemic levels, but they are increasing according to local travel authorities. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire file)

After steep decline, transportation numbers are slowly taking off again

Travelers are coming back, but not yet at pre-pandemic numbers

Final numbers are still being put together, but local transportation authorities say the number of people using their services in 2020 was unsurprisingly down.

According to preliminary data, large carriers arriving at the Juneau International Airport, Alaska Airlines and Delta Airline, saw their traveler numbers fall by more than half. Airport data shows in 2019 there were 328,743 enplanements for the two large carriers at the Juneau airport, in 2020 there were 135,685.

Between Jan. 1, and July 28, 2021, the large carriers saw 138,116 enplanements, compared to 80,990 in 2020 and 189,241 in 2019, airport data show.

Airport manager Patty Wahto noted the large carriers were only a portion of the traffic from the airport and said 2020 numbers for smaller carriers were still being compiled by the Federal Aviation Administration but were expected soon.

“Last November the travel numbers were still down 60-70%, but we have seen a gradual rebound this summer down to single percentages to in the teens and a couple of days actually higher than in 2019,” Wahto said in an email.

[Juneau’s landfill likely to last 20 more years]

Smaller carriers were seeing mixed numbers, Wahto said, with some being very busy but others closely related to cruise ship tourism were not. Helicopter flights were not very busy, according to Wahto, who noted that Wings Airways, which typically operates from a dock on the downtown waterfront, was not operating this summer.

The Alaska Marine Highway System saw a similar decline in numbers, according to data from the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities. In July of 2020 AMHS carried 8,221 passengers, according to department spokesperson Sam Dapcevich, and 4,999 vehicles. According to AMHS’ annual report, in July, 2019 there were 24,300 passengers and 8,814.

The city’s bus system also saw a decline in ridership, said Denise Guizio, administrative assistant with Capital Transit, but ridership has ticked back up.

“We were providing over a million rides prior to the pandemic,” Guizio said in a phone interview Wednesday. “At the start of the pandemic we were limiting rides, slowly our ridership is starting to increase.”

Capital Transit’s data show 1,010,570 riders in 2019 and only 560,705 in 2020. In July 2021, there were 53,017 riders on Capital Transit, data show, compared to 41,051 in 2020 and 94,286 in 2019.

Guizio said that once people are again comfortable with the idea of public transit, ridership will increase again. Riders on Capital Transit must be masked under Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, Guizio said. Public transportation is subject to federal as well as local regulations Guizio said, and the CDC had recently extended its mask requirement for public transport to January 2022. Those regulations apply to airlines as well, according to the CDC.

• Contact reporter Peter Segall at psegall@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnuEmpire.

More in News

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Aurora forecast for the week of April 15

These forecasts are courtesy of the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute… Continue reading

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Sunday, April 14, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

TJ Beers holds a sign to advocate for the rights of people experiencing homelessness outside the state Capitol on April 9. Beers was homeless for four years and in three states. “I don’t know how I survived,” he said. (Claire Stremple/Alaska Beacon)
Lawmakers weigh whether to reduce or acknowledge rights of growing Alaska homeless population

As cities try to house people, Dunleavy’s protest bill would further criminalize them, advocates say.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Saturday, April 13, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Friday, April 12, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Thursday, April 11, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

The sky and mountains are reflected in the water on April 5, 2012, at the Kootznoowoo Wilderness in the Tongass National Forest’s Admiralty Island National Monument. Conservation organizations bought some private land and transferred it to the U.S. Forest Service, resulting in an incremental expansion of the Kootznoowoo Wilderness and protection of habitat important to salmon and wildlife. (Photo by Don MacDougall/U.S. Forest Service)
Conservation groups’ purchase preserves additional land in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest

A designated wilderness area in Southeast Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, the largest… Continue reading

A welcome sign is shown Sept. 22, 2021, in Tok. President Joe Biden won Alaska’s nominating contest on Saturday. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)
Biden wins more delegates in Alaska and Wyoming as he heads toward Democratic nomination

President Joe Biden nudged further ahead in the Democratic nomination for reelection… Continue reading

Juneau Assembly members and other visitors examine a meeting room formerly used by the nine-member Alaska State Board of Education and Early Development on Monday, April 8, which is about 25% larger than the Assembly Chambers at City Hall. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Of three possible new City Hall buildings, one stands out — but plenty of proposed uses for other two

Michael J. Burns Building eyed as city HQ; childcare, animal shelter among options at school sites.

Most Read