Texas company considers buying Williams' cargo port interest

Posted: Tuesday, July 02, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- While Williams Cos. has announced it prefers to sell all of its Alaska assets as a package, a Texas-based firm has first shot at the air cargo transfer facility at the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.

Lynxs Alaska CargoPort is a joint venture between the Lynxs Group of Austin, Texas, and Williams Alaska Petroleum Inc.'s subsidiary, Williams Air Cargo Properties LLC.

Williams Cos., the parent company of Williams Alaska Petroleum, and Lynxs Group are equal partners in the cargo port. Lynxs is the managing partner.

Lynxs has right of first refusal on the venture, said Ken Lythgoe, the CargoPort's general manager, and Jeff Cook, vice president of external affairs for Williams. Lythgoe said the Austin-based company would not immediately announce if it would exercise the option. He emphasized Lynxs is committed to the project for the long run, whether as a partner or as sole owner.

''Lynxs is grounded in the cargo business and has no desire to pull out of Alaska,'' Lythgoe told the Alaska Journal of Commerce. Lynxs runs about a dozen similar facilities across the United States. Most are partnerships with other limited liability companies.

The $22 million Williams Lynxs Alaska CargoPort opened in late 2000 and was operating at near capacity less than a year later. Airlines operating at the CargoPort include Northwest Airlines Cargo, Atlas Air Inc. and United Airlines.

The 105,000-square-foot commercial warehouse and cargo transfer facility has more than 500,000 square feet of tarmac and enough parking space for six Boeing 747 wide-body air freighters. A planned multimillion expansion, which would more than double the size of the facility, had been put on hold due to a slumping worldwide economy, particularly in Asia, Cook and Lythgoe said.

The CargoPort is operating at about 85 percent capacity, Lythgoe said.

Cook said Williams has been relatively pleased with the performance of the CargoPort.

''It's been an OK investment and certainly provided us some value, but it didn't fill up to capacity as we had hoped when the Asian economy tanked,'' Cook said. A deep downturn in the Asian economy two years ago decreased the amount of cargo landed at the airport from 13.4 billion pounds in 1998 to 12.8 billion pounds in 1999.

Despite the decrease, Anchorage still led the nation in all-cargo landed weights. Lythgoe said it's only a matter of time before the worldwide air cargo industry takes off again and enjoys healthy growth as it has for the past three decades.

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