As Travel Demand Plummets, Alaska Now Has The World’s Busiest Airport
We’ve seen the heavy impacts to travel since the coronavirus pandemic began. A few weeks ago, Southwest Airlines became the largest airline in the world. Well, Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport recently became the busiest airport in the world. That’s right, nestled away in remote city of 290,000 people sits the busiest airport in the entire world, as measured by air traffic.
Of course, this is not because there is a sudden influx of passengers seeking the wild outdoors of Alaska. Although, if you’ve never been it’s a wonderful place to travel once all of this is over. Instead, the airport now serves as a major hub for cargo aircraft transiting products around the globe.
But why Anchorage, Alaska? Incredibly, Anchorage is located 9.5 hours from 90% of the industrial world, making it an amazing gateway to places around the world. Cargo has become the saving grace for commercial airlines who have sought to expand their ability to transport cargo. Last month, U.S. airlines requested permission from the FAA to transport passenger cabins into cargo cabins, in order to allow them additional space to move cargo. Increasing the amount of cargo airlines can transport gives them the ability to increase revenue at a time passenger revenue has plummeted.
In addition, cargo flights are transiting much needed medical equipment and supplies to fight the pandemic. IATA stated recently that the demand for pharmaceutical shipments is more than double what it was last year. That type of demand in cargo shipments is leading to a significant jump in cargo flights. Many of those flights transit through Alaska.
This is a pretty tremendous demonstration of the impact coronavirus has had on the entire globe. Airports that bustled with people and served some of the world’s busiest routes have been cut — in some cases up to 90% or more. As you see a place like Alaska outpacing Atlanta, Beijing, Heathrow, and Hong Kong, it demonstrates just how deep these impacts run. It also paints a picture of the difficulty there is to get back to normal after stay-at-home orders are lifted. There’s a long road to recovery, unfortunately. It’s hard to know when this will end. But in the meantime stories like this paint a vivid picture of the substantial impacts.