Remember 2019 — the last full year of “normal” before the pandemic?
It remains the touchstone year for measuring how things are now. 
For example: Something is said to be getting better. OK, yeah, maybe. Is it better compared to 2021 or 2020 — or 2019? 
If it’s improvement on 2019, that’s saying something.
And if that’s saying something, then we’re impressed by the Ketchikan International Airport’s usage data for September 2021.
Spoiler alert: It’s better than 2019.
The information is included in the Ketchikan Gateway Borough manager’s report that’s part of the agenda packet for Monday’s regular meeting of the Borough Assembly.
The simple graphic shows that 12,031 inbound passengers used the airport in September 2022. That’s 22% more than the 9,832 inbound passengers in September 2021. 
But how did it compare to 2019? 
Well, the 2022 count was about 14% higher than the 10,516 inbound passengers in September 2019.
And what about outbound passenger tallies? The 14,133-passenger count in 2022 was 13% higher than the 12,507 in 2021 — and about 5% higher than the 13,362 tally in 2019.
The year-to-date figures for Jan. 1 through Sept. 30 show similar trends.
The 2022 YTD figure of 105,507 inbound passengers is a full 25% above that of 2021. It’s also about 2.1% higher than the 2019 YTD count of 103,304 passengers.
For outbound passengers, the 2022 YTD count of 104,172 is 26% higher than the 82,960 count in 2021, and 2.7% above the 2019 mark of 101,352.
The data in the manager’s report includes airport ferry vehicle and passenger tallies, each of which for 2022 is above the 2019 counts for September and year-to-date.
We’ll readily agree that airport usage is just one of many possible metrics by which to judge whether “things” have recovered. But for a community that relies so heavily on air travel, the airport usage data suggests that we have at least one thing that’s now better than it was in 2019.