Dunleavy sees ANC as launch point for cargo and economic growth
Alaska is separated geographically from the Lower 48, and that placement has its privileges. The state's largest city is the jumping off and receiving point for much of the cargo that goes in and out of Asia and beyond.
Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport is one of the busiest cargo airports in the world.
On Wednesday Gov. Mike Dunleavy led a contingent around the airport to see some cargo operations while discussing the state's economic growth.
He said Alaska has had a rough couple of years because of the drop in the price of oil, but things are changing. "Alaska is now being viewed as a place to ship goods and product out of because of our location," he said.
The type of cargo varies. "We do have some perishables going over to Asia," said Michael Spillane, the station manager for Polar Air Cargo. "We have flights to Narita, Japan. They have a lot of perishables. Hong Kong gets a lot of perishables."
And the goods themselves may have more frequent flier miles than most travelers.
"We'll bring it up from South America to Miami to Cincinnati and then it makes its way over," Spillane said.
Commissioner of the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities John Binder says 3% of all freight that moves globally moves by air but 30-35% of the value of freight that moves around the world moves by air.
"A lot of electronics. All the Apple iPhones — they all land in Anchorage on their way down to the Lower 48," Binder said.
And it ramps up as the holidays approach.
Over at FedEx, leadership says the company is planning for the future. Dale Shaw, managing director for FedEx Express Alaska and Hawaii, says a new $57 million facility being built will accommodate 20 more pickup vans and is expected to sort about 6,000 pieces of cargo an hour.
"We plan on doing all of our domestic operations over in our new facility," Shaw said. Currently, domestic and international operations are housed in the same building, but they can't run at the same time.
"This will give us more capacity in the international building and give us capacity over on the domestic side as well." Shaw said.
One of the biggest challenges now is one that's out of the governor's control: the trade relationship with China.
"We have a little bit of a timber industry going on on Kodiak Island that ships logs over to Asia that's being impacted and especially our fisheries being impacted by the tariff situation," Dunleavy said. "But we're hoping this gets resolved sooner than later. We're hoping that it opens up more possibilities for trade for all of us."
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