AMERICAS: Anchorage suffers as capacity pulled

Anchorage airport is suffering along with the air cargo carriers as plummeting volumes have left a glut of over-capacity leading to parked planes and cancelled routes. The number of cargo planes touching down to refuel and swap freight in Anchorage on their way between Asia and the rest of North America has slumped significantly. Between […]


Anchorage airport is suffering along with the air cargo carriers as plummeting volumes have left a glut of over-capacity leading to parked planes and cancelled routes. The number of cargo planes touching down to refuel and swap freight in Anchorage on their way between Asia and the rest of North America has slumped significantly.

Between last July and this March, the Anchorage airport dropped from its No. 3 ranking among the world’s airports for cargo landings (by weight) to No. 5. Cargo weight at airports in Shanghai and Seoul didn’t change much, but those airports leapfrogged ahead of Anchorage when its cargo declined. Memphis and Hong Kong maintained their ranking as No. 1 and No. 2.

And the eruption of the Mount Redoubt volcano, which filled the sky with dangerous ash simply made matters worse. Flights diverted due to the volcano cost the airport $2 million alone in lost revenue.

Average monthly revenue at the Anchorage airport has dropped from US$10 million to $8 million, according to airport officials who forecast revenue for the year to be down nearly 20 per cent.

FedEx also announced earlier this year that it is transferring 68 pilots elsewhere, saying the move is part of a companywide strategy to cut costs and improve efficiency as cargo volumes drop. And the grounding of Northwest Airlines freighter fleet following its merger with Delta will also hurt Anchorage as five of the fleet’s nine freighters called at the airport on the way to and from Asia. The loss of Northwest could cost the Anchorage airport $3 million in revenue annually, according to the airport’s estimates. One small bright spot is the start of services through Anchorage by Shanghai-based Great Wall Air, which is 49 per cent owned by Singapore entities, including Singapore Airlines.