Cargolux Airlines International S.A., a Luxembourg cargo carrier, deplanes at Ted Stevens International Airport on May well 16, 2023. (Mizelle Mayo/Alaska Public Media)
To clarify why Anchorage International Airport gets so considerably cargo targeted traffic, Airport Director Craig Campbell picked up a decorative globe he keeps on his desk.
He pointed to the important exporters in Asia, then dragged his finger across the Pacific Ocean to the huge U.S. hub cities exactly where the imported goods are distributed. The virtual halfway point of every of these trips, he stated, is Anchorage.
Every single plane has a weight limit, so in order to maximize the portion of that weight allotted to useful merchandise, the carriers only fill half the quantity of gas they’ll require. They then make a pit quit in Anchorage to gas up for the second leg of their trip.
“If you place a lot of gas in to fly from Asia all the way to Chicago, that is heavier weight in gas, much less cargo,” Campbell stated. “So by stopping right here – much less gas, extra cargo.”
These gas (and frequently crew transform) stops are the principal cause why the Ted Stevens International Airport is now the third busiest cargo airport in the planet.
Worldwide cargo demand softened following the pandemic boom, but Campbell stated thanks to its geographic benefit, Anchorage targeted traffic is down far much less than other airports. That has permitted operations – and employment possibilities – to continue expanding.
Ted Stevens’ Airport now accounts for one particular out of seven jobs in Anchorage, according to a study by the Anchorage Financial Improvement Corporation. And Campbell stated proposed new developments could push that quantity even larger.
For instance, Campbell stated an agreement hasn’t been finalized, but FedEx desires to make a regional hub at the airport to concentrate solely on shipping packages all through Alaska.
“That’s going to be new and creating more than the subsequent couple of years, which shows that we are rising,” Campbell stated. “The airport’s rising, the activity is rising, the air freight, particularly for Alaska, in rural Alaska is nevertheless really, really vital. And it is recognized by the market.”
Craig Campbell, Airport Director of Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, points to possible regions of expansion on an airport map. (Mizelle Mayo/Alaska Public Media)
But how considerably air cargo possible is there in a smaller city in the far north? Darren Prokop is a logistics professor at the University of Alaska, Anchorage and stated the possible development of Alaska air cargo is restricted by the types of goods the state exports.
“We have a lot of cargo that is either transiting via, some of it is coming off, but we do not have considerably cargo originating in Alaska,” Prokop stated.
That is mainly because air cargo tends to consist of fragile, higher worth goods like pharmaceuticals and personal computer chips, he stated. Alaska mainly exports bulk all-natural sources like oil and minerals that are shipped out on barges.
“When we assume of Alaska shipping items, we assume of bulk: we assume of mining, we assume of bulk seafood, we assume of lumber. We do not assume of items that normally go on air cargo planes,” Prokop stated.
One particular airport proposal could commence to shift that dynamic, even though. Alaska Cargo & Cold Storage plans to make a warehouse subsequent to the runway with refrigerated storage facilities – the 1st of its type at Ted Stevens’ International. That implies extra fresh salmon could be shipped to restaurants in the decrease 48. It may well also heighten demand for Alaska peonies – the state is the only spot in the planet exactly where the preferred flower is accessible throughout summer season months.
But Prokop stated beyond that, Alaska would require to commence manufacturing one particular of these higher worth items in order to comprehend its air cargo possible.
“Should we do element of worth-added manufacturing of semiconductors, of computer systems, for instance?” Prokop wondered. “So it is a true puzzle. What is that suitable solution that tends to make sense that we could do in Alaska, and it is conducive to get on air cargo?”
Expanding cargo facilities could entice new firms to set up shop right here, but only if they recognize Anchorage’s international orientation. Prokop explained that the shortest distance involving Asia and the U.S. is truly up and via Alaska, mainly because the Earth is round. He stated that it is difficult to visualize that with out hunting at a round, three-D globe.
“People are utilised to hunting at wall maps, not globes,” Prokop stated. “Ted Stevens Airport requires to clarify to makers: the Earth is round, a lot of your items are coming via Alaska, perhaps you want to be right here.”
Considering the fact that Anchorage is much less than ten hours from the majority of the industrial planet, Prokop argued that Alaska is genuinely extra of a central locale than a remote one particular.