ⓘ Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport

                                     

ⓘ Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport

Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport is a major airport in the U.S. state of Alaska, located 5 miles southwest of downtown Anchorage. The airport is named for Ted Stevens, a U.S. senator from Alaska in office from 1968 to 2009. It is included in the Federal Aviation Administration National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems for 2017–2021, in which it is categorized as a medium-hub primary commercial service facility.

                                     

1. History

Built in 1951, the airport was served in the 1950s by Alaska Airlines, Northwest Orient, Pacific Northern Airlines and Reeve Aleutian Airways, using aircraft ranging from Douglas DC-3s to Boeing 377s, and was also a refueling stop for Canadian Pacific Air Lines service to the Far East one such aircraft being involved in a 1951 disappearance. From 1955 to 2011, the eastern end of the airports southernmost runway connected to the Kulis Air National Guard Base.

Anchorage was a common stopover for passengers flying to East Asia until the late 1980s because airspace in China, Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc countries were off-limits and because the first generation of jets and widebody airliners did not have the range to fly non-stop across the Pacific Ocean. Carriers using Anchorage for this purpose included:

  • Air France, British Airways, Iberia, KLM, Lufthansa and Sabena all used Anchorage as a stopover point between Europe and Tokyo into the 1980s.
  • Scandinavian Airlines SAS began a transpolar flight from Copenhagen to Tokyo via Anchorage in 1957.
  • Korean Air used Anchorage as a stopover point for flights between Seoul and both Europe and the continental US in the 1980s. On September 1, 1983, one of these flights, Flight 007 was shot down by a Soviet pilot who had mistaken it for a spy plane, after unintentionally violating Soviet airspace.
  • Northwest Orient, the first airline to operate scheduled trans-Pacific service after World War II, used Elmendorf Field and later Anchorage International as a stopover for service between US points Seattle, Chicago and Minneapolis at various times and Tokyo as late as the mid-1970s.
  • Japan Airlines served Seattle through Anchorage in the early 1960s, and offered service through Anchorage to London, Paris, Amsterdam, Dusseldorf and other European cities from the 1960s until as late as 1987.

Most scheduled passenger service from Anchorage to Europe and Asia ceased in the early 1990s following the end of the Cold War. Korean Air continued to serve Anchorage on a scheduled basis until the early 2000s. China Airlines, the last Asian carrier to serve Anchorage on a regular basis, used Anchorage as an intermediate stop on its Taipei-New York route until 2011, when it rerouted these flights to stop in Osaka. While a few charter passenger aircraft still stop at Anchorage on flights between Asia and the eastern United States, scheduled cargo carriers – which benefit from more volume and thus shorter route segments – continue to use Anchorage frequently. Condor still uses the Frankfurt-Anchorage route on a Boeing 767.

In the 1990s, Alaska Airlines and Aeroflot operated service from Anchorage to several destinations in the Russian Far East, including Khabarovsk, Magadan, Petropavlovsk, Vladivostok and Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk. Alaska Airlines pulled out of these markets in 1998 due to insufficient demand, while the Aeroflot services were primarily intended as technical stops en route to Seattle and San Francisco and were cancelled once newer aircraft and nonstop rights became available. Reeve Aleutian Airways, Dalavia and MAVIAL Magadan Airlines also offered service between Anchorage and the Russian Far East at various times, catering to Kamchatka oil exploration and other niche markets.

In October 2018, Alaska Governor Bill Walker and Heilongjiang Province Governor Wang Wentao announced plans to connect Anchorage and Harbin Taiping International Airport with year-round, nonstop flights as early as summer 2019.

The airport was renamed in 2000 by the Alaska Legislature to honor then long-standing U.S. Senator Ted Stevens. Stevens survived a crash at the airport in 1978 that also killed his then-wife.

On November 30, 2018, the airport suffered minor damage and was temporarily closed following a magnitude 7.0 earthquake in the area. In June 2019, American Airlines switched the Boeing 737-800 on their seasonal route to Phoenix with the Airbus A321neo making them the first and only airline as of July 2019 to use the A321neo at Anchorage.

                                     

2. Passenger traffic

Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airports passenger traffic hovered around the five million mark between 1998 and 2008, apart from in 2002 when the airport suffered a 13% drop in traffic. Fairbanks and Juneau are the next busiest airports though neither managed more than half a million passengers last year. Anchorage traffic peaks in June, July and August when passenger numbers are twice as high as between October and April. Most major U.S. passenger carriers serve ANC, with the majority of passenger flight operations by Alaska Airlines to and from Seattle an average of 20 flights per day and Fairbanks 5-7 flights per day.

Anchorage is also envisioned as a future connecting point for air traffic to the Russian Far East. During the summer season 2008, there was one weekly flight to Russia by Vladivostok Air. Yakutia Airlines resumed summer seasonal service to Russia in 2012. Many of Alaskas North Slope workers live either in Anchorage or elsewhere in the Lower 48 states and fly through the airport to their jobs in Prudhoe Bay.

As per Federal Aviation Administration records, the airport had 2.599.313 passenger boardings enplanements in calendar year 2008, 2.282.666 enplanements in 2009, and 2.342.310 in 2010.

                                     

3. International cargo hub

Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport is also a major cargo hub. As of 2015, it ranked as the fourth busiest airport in the world by cargo traffic, after Hong Kong, Memphis, and Shanghai–Pudong.

FedEx Express and UPS Airlines operate major hubs at Anchorage International for cargo heading to and from the Far East. NWA Cargo used to operate a major hub at the airport until December 28, 2009 when it closed all operations for Northwest Cargo at all airports. FedEx Express is the airports largest cargo facility and can handle as many as 13.400 packages per hour, employing more than 1.200 people and providing a full customs clearance system. United Parcel Services hub handles about 5.000 parcels per hour. Both companies forecast a large growth in traffic over the next several years as trade with China and other Far East countries increases and plan to expand their Anchorage facilities comparatively. The United States Postal Service also operates a large sectional center facility SCF for the 995xx ZIP Codes. It processes mail and parcels headed to and from all Alaska cities.



                                     

4. Facilities and aircraft

Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport covers an area of 4.608 acres 1.865 ha at an elevation of 151 feet 46 m above mean sea level. It has three runways: 7L/25R is 10.600 by 150 feet 3.231 x 46 m with an asphalt surface; 7R/25L is 12.400 by 200 feet 3.780 x 61 m with an asphalt/concrete surface; 15/33 is 10.865 by 200 feet 3.312 x 61 m with an asphalt surface. The airport also has one asphalt helipad that is 100 by 100 feet 30 x 30 m.

For the 12-month period ending April 30, 2019, the airport had 261.961 aircraft operations, an average of 718 per day: 38% scheduled commercial, 32% general aviation, 29% air taxi, and