Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC) was the nation’s eighth busiest international air freight gateway by value of shipments, and the twenty-third overall by value among all gateways—airports, seaports, and land ports in 2003. Nearly 4 percent ($22 billion) of the value of all U.S. international air cargo moved through ANC in 2003. By weight, ANC ranks first among all U.S. air gateways with 26 percent of the tonnage of U.S. international air freight moving through it.
ANC occupies a unique position among international air gateways. In 1996, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) began to permit air carriers from foreign countries (except those from the United Kingdom and Japan) to conduct expanded cargo activities at ANC. These activities include cargo transfer from foreign carrier’s aircraft to any of its other aircraft, transfer from a foreign carrier to any U.S. air carrier, and transfer from one foreign carrier to any other foreign carrier.1 This ruling gave a tremendous boost to the already growing international merchandise trade through ANC. In part because of this ruling, international air cargo through ANC increased 21 percent by tonnage from 1996 to 1997 and continues to grow today.
ANC is a major hub for international air trade to Asian countries, with most flights from the United States destined for Asia or flights from Asia destined for the United States making an operational stop at ANC. The top three origin and destination countries on nonstop international flight segments through ANC are South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan. In total, the three countries accounted for 77 percent of the tonnage of international air cargo handled at ANC in 2003. The origin and destination markets for ANC are also the same as origin and destination countries on nonstop international flight segments.2
Between 1999 and 2003, the value of international merchandise trade moving through ANC increased by 2 percent. Exports declined by nearly 11 percent while imports increased by 7 percent. During the same period, the weight of air cargo handled at ANC climbed 30 percent—with import tonnage rising by 43 percent and export tonnage rising by about 10 percent. The large growth in air cargo tonnage has enhanced ANC’s position as a national and international air freight hub.
Federal Express is the major U.S. carrier among the top air carriers for imports and exports, accounting for 12 percent of the air cargo tonnage in 2003. The other major cargo carriers at ANC in 2003 were Korean Air Lines, China Airlines, and Japan Air Lines.
As U.S. and Asia trade increases, particularly with China, the number of flights between the two countries and the international air cargo passing through ANC is likely to increase.
1 Anchorage International Airport web site, available at http://www.dot.state.ak.us/anc/Management/Marketing/usdot.htm as of Nov. 1, 2004.
2 Based on Form 41 International Market Data from the Office of Airline Information, Bureau of Transportation Statistics.