Talkeetna Airport sees busy tourist season, but short of past projections

After a busy summer, the Talkeetna State Airport has returned to its quiet, off-season state. Local air services say they saw increases in traffic this summer.

Talkeetna Air Taxi claims an 11% increase over last season for the busy months of May to September.

K2 Aviation also had a busy summer, and owner Suzanne Rust attributes some of her company’s increase in business to the good flying weather. She says every day felt like the Fourth of July.

Comparing total aviation numbers between 2014 and 2015 involves utilizing the Talkeetna Flight Service Airport Advisory Count, which is the number of radio calls made to flight service. Though the numbers were largely similar, May of 2015 showed an increase over last year, and July showed a decrease.

Talkeetna Airport Manager Steve Hansen describes the Talkeetna State Airport as being at capacity for plane storage for the past few years. He says there are 13 lease lots, and around 43 general aviation airplanes in the summer months. There are 10 transient airplane spots that are also usually full in the summer.

As part of its Regional Aviation System Plan, approved in the summer of 2008, the Mat-Su Borough did studies on airports in the Borough, including Talkeetna. The study says that Talkeetna and Willow are the two fastest growing airports in the area. At least some of the projections are much higher than the actual numbers, however. For example, the 2015 forecast for number of planes based in Talkeetna is 142. The actual number is approximately 70 aircraft.

The 2001 Talkeetna Airport Master Plan projected total flights for 2015 at 44,600. This includes generation aviation, military, air taxi and transient aircraft. Based on the fact that the actual number of aircraft based in Talkeetna is less than half of the projection, the Talkeetna Airport Master Plan forecast is likely off by a large margin as well.

While the numbers fall short of past projections, some evidence points to that being a consequence of capacity, and Talkeetna’s airport remains undeniably busy in the summer tourist season.