Executive says airport not at risk of becoming flyover city

Posted: Tuesday, April 29, 2003

ANCHORAGE (AP) Anchorage is not at risk of becoming a flyover city anytime soon, according to a Boeing executive.

Tom Hoang, Boeing's director of cargo marketing for the America region, said most airlines can't afford to do what Air France did when it bought longer range jets. That move led to Fairbanks losing Air France as a cargo transit stop customer.

Hoang said that the Boeing 747-400s extended range freighters that Air France bought cost from $188 million to $215 million each. They have longer-range fuel capacity, but that's not cost effective for most cargo carriers, Hoang said.

Air France could afford the upgrade, but Hoang told the Alaska Journal of Commerce that most airlines will opt to convert passenger jets.

It's very expensive,'' Hoang said. Mostly you will see a lot of airlines will go with conversion, rather than a brand new production aircraft.''

He said Air France could afford the longer range jumbo jets because the airline is one of the top players in the air cargo business.

While Anchorage has lost passenger transit business over the years, Hoang said the dynamics for the air cargo industry are different.

We don't see cargo following the same path of passenger flights in terms of overflying Anchorage,'' Hoang said. The characteristics of the air cargo market are very different from the passenger market.''

Anchorage is one of six cities that will receive service from the new large cargo jets.

In February, Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport won a $51 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to upgrade facilities. The money will be used to pay for construction of taxiways and upgrade existing runways over a six-year period.

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