Cargo volume builds

PHOTO/Rob Stapleton/AJOC
Despite increased costs to users, the Alaska International Airport System is posting double-digit increases in cargo landed weight for the peak shipping season months at Fairbanks International Airport and mid-single-digit growth at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport

"This is standard growth for Anchorage," said Bill O’Leary, comptroller for the AIAS system. "Growth for the whole system also reflects standard predictions."

Fairbanks weighed in with a 9.52 percent increase for international landed cargo with 318.5 million pounds from September through November 2000, compared with 290.7 million pounds during the same period of 1999. Anchorage landed 5.6 billion pounds during the peak fall season in 2000 compared to 5.3 billion pounds in 1999.

Both airports showed a double-digit increase in international freight deplaned, enplaned and in transit, but the Anchorage numbers are suspect due to the double counting of transit and enplaned cargo, according to industry accountants.

Fairbanks doesn’t transload cargo from aircraft to aircraft so its numbers do not include transit cargo double reporting.

Airports Council International, a worldwide cargo organization that monitors the international air cargo industry, lists Anchorage with an asterisk to clarify that Anchorage has a unique counting method.

Anchorage showed a total of 1 billion pounds enplaned, deplaned and in transit during the peak season in 2000, a 17.05 percent increase from 1999. Fairbanks showed an 11.46 percent growth with 74 million pounds moved in 2000 compared with 66.3 million pounds in 1999.

"We currently are proud to support 32 intercontinental wide-body landings per week, or 130 monthly," said Dave Carlstrom, marketing director for the Fairbanks Industrial Development Corp. "We have experienced some growth with the big jets over the months of September through November of 2000 with an increase to 388 flights."

Air France, Lufthansa Cargo, and Cargolux are Fairbanks International’s core group of carriers. The increase is due to Cargolux’s increased activity as loads between Europe and Asia increase, said Carlstrom.

As the AIAS grows, so has the cost of doing business in Alaska. Touted as one of the cheapest airport systems in the world to do business, the system recently went from around 50 cents in 1998 to 89 cents per landed pound of cargo in fiscal 2001.

A new airport operating agreement will include increases in every category including landing fees, leases and fuel flowage, according to AIAS officials. The agreement, which has not been signed, has been in negotiations for more than a year by the airport users and state Department of Transportation and Public Facilities officials.

Other factors that will increase the cost of doing business in the AIAS will be the increase in the fees due to capital improvements to the system’s infrastructure and the terminal renovation debt service.

AIAS fees still rate comparatively low, and very low by international standards. A standard Boeing 747-200 that weighs an average of 830,000 pounds would generate a $738.70 landing fee at both Anchorage and Fairbanks.

According to an American Association of Airport Executives comparison of fees for medium U.S. hub airports -- which includes Anchorage -- the average landing fee for a signatory air carrier in 1998 was $1,281 for a Boeing 747-200 aircraft.

On the international scale, for example at Japan’s Narita Airport, the average landing fee for a B-747-200 is $10,000.

01/27/2001 - 8:00pm