Sharp increase in Western Slope air travel

An American Airlines flight departs from GJT
An American Airlines flight departs from GJT(KKCO/KJCT)
Published: Mar. 23, 2021 at 5:05 PM MDT
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - Air travel is on the rise, both nationally and locally in Western Colorado. Grand Junction Regional Airport and Montrose Airport have both seen a significant spike in travel over the last few weeks.

Most forms of travel came to a complete halt when Covid-19 first hit last spring. Fast forward one full year, and now people seem to be much more comfortable flying in a pandemic.

“There has been a noticeable uptick in traffic, with traffic increasing every week for many weeks now,” says Angela Padalecki, Executive Director of Grand Junction Regional Airport. “We don’t know exactly why we are seeing an uptick, but we think it’s likely a combination of factors, including vaccination rates for specifically those high-risk populations. We also anticipated, and I think we’re starting to see, just pent up demand for air travel and travel in general.”

The increase in local air travel follows a similar pattern nationally. More than 1 million people have flown across the United States each of the past 11 days. Sunday broke a pandemic travel record with TSA reporting more than 1.5 million passengers. Travelers coming through Grand Junction Airport said they do feel safer now on airplanes.

“Traveling here, there was no worry with people and it just felt like a routine thing,” says Jeremiah Nelson, who flew in from North Dakota. “I’ve been traveling throughout the entire pandemic, but tensions have gone down a lot. I was pretty comfortable with it because we are all so used to it by now.

Montrose Airport says they have also seen a significant spike in travelers over the past few weeks. They attribute this to a few factors; these include spring break coinciding with ski season, and a certain comfort level slowly returning to air travel.

Grand Junction Airport also says the demand has increased to a point where they are now scheduling the same number of flights as they did prior to the pandemic.

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