Fairbanks air travel on rebound after Sept. 11

Posted: Thursday, December 06, 2001

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Air travel in Alaska's Interior was down following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, but now air travel appears to be getting back to normal.

A state Department of Transportation report found that trips to and from Fairbanks International Airport in September fell an average of 11 percent compared to last year. In October, air travel dropped a more modest 3.6 percent.

Dave Carlstrom, director of airport marketing for Fairbanks Economic Development Corp., said the drop was far less than at some airports in the Lower 48, where some reported declines of 20 percent or more.

Alaska Airlines said travel systemwide was down by 18.7 percent in September when compared to the previous September. Travel aboard the airline in October was down 7.3 percent, according to airline spokesman Jack Walsh. The airline does not provide market-specific numbers.

The company is running 95 percent of its pre-September schedule nationally. All of Alaska's in-state flights are operating, Walsh said.

Harry Cook, general manager of Tatonduk Flying Service, said the rebound in air travel makes sense in Alaska. That's because people who live in the state do not have the option of driving to many of the villages, he said.

Brenda La Sane, owner of Progressive World Travel, said her business saw a drop in ticket sales in September, but now customers seem to be coming back.

''People are still interested in traveling,'' La Sane said.

The good news is that Alaska is one of the top destinations for winter tourism, competing head-to-head with Canada and Scandinavian countries, Mok Kumagai, tourism manager for the visitors bureau.

And the drop in numbers seems to be bottoming out and some industry hopefuls say that people will book weeks in advance instead of the usual months, he said. But it's still hard to predict what will happen, he said.

''The numbers change all the time,'' he said.

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