ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Summer passenger traffic set an all-time high in 2018 at Alaska's largest airport.
Officials at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport say 1.53 million passengers embarked on flights from May through September.
That was an increase of 68,724 passengers, a nearly 4.5 percent jump over 2017 summer traffic of 1.46 million embarking passengers, airport manager Jim Szczesniak said Thursday. It also exceeded the previous recorded high in summer 2016.
Most of the growth at the state-owned airport was spurred by tourism. Alaska is a top-rated cruise destination and many visitors combine one-way voyages along Alaska's Panhandle and the Gulf of Alaska with bus or train trips to Denali National Park, Szczesniak said. Those trips often start or end with a flight into or out of Anchorage.
"Our market is linked with the cruise industry," Szczesniak said.
Airlines added more passenger seats to accommodate demand. Alaska Airlines and Sun Country Airlines added flights, Szczesniak said.
Airport officials anticipate another increase next summer, tied to projected growth in the cruise industry. United Airlines features a weekly flight from Anchorage to New York and will expand.
"Next summer they're going to be coming in pretty much daily from New York," Szczesniak said.
The economic impact to the state is significant, Szczesniak said. A typical tourist will spend at least $1,000 within Alaska, he said. The airport estimates it's responsible for about 15,577 airport and community jobs, earning $1 billion.