Anchorage Officials Propose New Freight Route To Alleviate West Coast Supply Chain Problems

A Singapore Airlines Cargo taxis plane for departure on runway 32 at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport on April 27, 2013. The airport ranked fifth in the world for the most air cargo in transit. 2017. (Creative Commons photo by BriYYZ)

Anchorage economic development officials join Anchorage airport officials in touting a new freight forwarding initiative they say could help offset a growing supply chain problem.

Recent supply chain disruptions related to the pandemic have put the brakes on distribution on the west coast, leading to shortages and higher prices.

The Anchorage Economic Development Corporation, in partnership with Ted Stevens International Airport, released a feasibility study for a project called Anchorage Pacific Air-to-Sea Service, or ANC PASS.

Strong demand for goods from Asia has led to strong demand for ocean freight, leading to delays in deliveries to west coast ports, according to the study. Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, AEDC President Bill Popp said the project works as a hybrid model of air freight and shipping.

“Rather than having it go by boat, fly it from Asia to Anchorage,” Popp said. “From Anchorage International Airport, bundled in containers, board the southbound ships from the Port of Alaska to the Port of Seattle, the Port of Tacoma. And then put it back in truck mode for final delivery.

Popp says ocean freight delivery times have gone from an average of 30 days to over 75 days in recent months. The $ 100,000 study, conducted by Anchorage-based Naniq Global Logistics, indicates that ANC PASS could move cargo to West Coast ports in 6-7 days if flight times match the schedules of existing ocean carriers – in the longer term, between 15 and 19 days.

In addition, the study estimates an average saving of 23% for the ANC PASS compared to the strict use of air freight.

Dave Karp is Senior Vice President for Alaska at Saltchuk, a shipping company. He expressed his support for the project at the press conference, highlighting a change in the reliability of maritime transport.

“Traditionally, you could put something on a container ship from Asia and get it across the Pacific and through the supply chain in 30 days quite reliably, and you could do it affordably,” Karp said. “Today this game has completely changed.”

Saltchuk is the parent company of Naniq Global Logistics, the company that conducted the study.

Ted Stevens International Airport is currently the fourth busiest airport in the world for cargo. Airport manager Jim Szczesniak said he anticipates the project could bring economic benefits to the state even beyond the pandemic.

“It’s an advantage for Alaska from an employment standpoint,” said Sczerniak. “There are a lot of Alaskans who are currently working to process these flights, and we think we are now going to be that future link from where we can make this aircraft in the marine component at Anchorage airport.”

Popp with AEDC says officials are now working to market ANC PASS to potential buyers.

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