ANC has been a critical airport since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. The distribution of PPE, as well as the vaccines, by all the air cargo carriers transiting through ANC, was and still is very important to our state, and incredibly important to the U.S. cities that need these goods.
ANC was the busiest airport in the world in April of 2020. The airport has not slowed down very much since then. In the month of October 2021, ANC saw over 125 wide-body air cargo aircraft land at ANC EVERY DAY, with important goods to be delivered to North America.
The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, continue to be logistical bottlenecks. ANC has a solution for this! Each week, several cargo ships come from the Port of Tacoma to the Port of Anchorage, filled with goods for Alaska. Each week, these ships then leave ANC to go back to the Port of Tacoma, hauling empty containers.
The Anchorage Economic Development Corp. and Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport have announced a new initiative aimed at alleviating the supply chain backlog hampering the West Coast.
The new project is called Anchorage Pacific Air to Sea Service, also known as ANC PASS. Instead of having a ship go directly from Asia to ports on the West Coast, it would send a cargo plane from Asia to the Anchorage airport. From there, goods would be packed into containers and driven to the Port of Alaska, loaded onto southbound ships leaving for Ports in Tacoma or Seattle where they’ll be picked up for final delivery.
“The U.S. West Coast port challenges are what really caught our attention,” said Anchorage Economic Development Corp. President and CEO Bill Popp.
Popp added most ships heading southbound out of the Port of Alaska these days have empty containers. Those working on the project feel it could help fill empty containers, relieve the supply chain snarl backing up West Coast ports and capitalize on the Anchorage airport’s use as a stop for cargo planes.
Airport Director Jim Szczesniak said right now, about 94% of the trade weight coming from Asia to North America is being shipped via the ocean. If air cargo could tap into just 1% of that, he said, it could mean a 16% increase in air cargo activity.
“We looked at the amount of empty containers that leave Anchorage and go back to the ports of Tacoma and Seattle ... it takes 151 747 (planes) to fill those containers on a weekly basis,” Szczesniak said. “So it’s a substantial amount of capacity that’s available to send stuff back.”