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

Jasmine Chavez, a crew member aboard the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship, waves to her family during a cell phone conversation after disembarking from the ship at Marine Park on May 10. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for the week of July 13

Here’s what to expect this week.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Wedesday, July 17, 2024

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

Cars arrive at Juneau International Airport on Thursday, July 11, 2024. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Juneau seems to have avoided major disruptions following global technology-related outage

911 centers, hospitals, airport, and public safety and emergency management agencies are operating.

People take photos of local dignitaries during the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Teal Street Center on Thursday afternoon. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Teal Street Center celebrates with ribbon-cutting a year after social agencies begin providing services

Nine organizations providing legal, disability, counseling and other help open under one roof.

Alaska Permanent Fund Corp. board chairman Ethan Schutt is seen during a special board meeting on Monday, Oct. 3, 2022, in Juneau. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Dunleavy reappoints Permanent Fund Corp. board chair Schutt after weeks of uncertainty

Gov. Mike Dunleavy has reappointed Ethan Schutt to a public seat on… Continue reading

Employees gather in front the historic Red Onion Saloon in Skagway, which will be taken over by Juneau restaurant owner Tracy LaBarge at the end of the summer tourism season. (Photo courtesy of the Red Onion Saloon)
Owner of Tracy’s King Crab Shack buys historic Red Onion Saloon in Skagway

Tracy LaBarge will take over the establishment after the 2024 summer tourism season

A memorial started on Front Street in downtown Juneau for 35-year-old Juneau resident Steven Kissack, who was experiencing homelessness, grows on Thursday with food donations and suicide hotline information. (Jasz Garrett / Juneau Empire)
As the death investigation of Steven Kissack begins, special prosecution office explains its process

Reviews can be lengthy, information limited to ensure due process, Department of Law leaders say

In this screenshot from a streamed court hearing, Attorney Thekla Hansen-Young (bottom right) speaks in front of a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on July 18, 2024, in San Francisco. (Screenshot)
Federal appeals court appears unlikely to halt Southeast Alaska king trolling for now

A lower-court order that could stop fishing has been placed on hold since last year.

Bulk food in Food Bank of Alaska’s Anchorage warehouse on April 21, 2023. (Claire Stremple/Alaska Beacon)

Most Read