Northwest doing brisk bussiness in Anchorage

Posted: Tuesday, July 29, 2003

ANCHORAGE (AP) Northwest Airlines Cargo Inc. is doing a brisk business at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, and doesn't anticipate slowing down anytime soon.

In fiscal 2002, Northwest accounted for 7 percent of the airport's total revenues, or $3.7 million, according to the Alaska Journal of Commerce.

''Logistically, with our type of aircraft, this is the right place for us because of the range of the aircraft,'' said Dean Weber, general manager of Northwest's cargo operations in Anchorage.

''Flying into Anchorage allows us to have a greater payload. And it's a good fit for us economically with the Anchorage community looking for long-term residents. The airport and the community have been behind us. I think that's why we like it here. It fits.''

Northwest has about 500 employees in Anchorage. The city is a hub for its Pacific cargo operation.

Northwest does a four-plane transload twice per day, one for eastbound flights and another for westbound flights. Transloading is the sorting cargo for efficient routing. The airline also uses Anchorage to fuel jets, change crews and cater the aircraft.

Northwest has no plans to reduce business in Anchorage, even though longer-range jets are coming on the market, Weber said.

Anchorage airport is now gearing up to serve the new heavy wide-bodies, most notably the Airbus 380.

''We have no near-term plans to try to overfly Anchorage,'' Weber said. ''I don't see a new aircraft coming into the cargo fleet in the near term.''

That opinion is echoed by Rich Sells, vice president of global sales for Northwest Airlines Cargo in Minneapolis. Sells said Northwest probably would convert passenger jets or look at used jets before opening its wallet for a fleet of Airbus 380s. The 380s, with their longer-range fuel tanks, could diminish the need for an Anchorage hub.

''We've got 747s flying, and that's what makes the most sense,'' Sells said.

Meanwhile, the Northwest-Anchorage marriage is going strong, and there are no plans to scale back.

''No reduction, that I can assure you,'' Sells said. ''We've got the infrastructure in place with the building. When we look at something, we look at it for the long term, not the short term.''

The Anchorage location as an international crossroads for global air cargo business offers unparalleled access to world markets.

''We cannot go nonstop to the New Yorks, to the Chicagos,'' Sells said. ''That's one thing. And two, we would lose the connectivity of a Korea market wanting to serve Los Angeles, Chicago and New York. So Anchorage makes all the sense in the world for our cross-connecting hub.''

In Anchorage, Weber said Northwest has several new projects under way or in the works.

''The big thing is what we call our Red Line Schedule,'' Weber said. That new Red Line cargo route from Anchorage to Osaka, Japan to Seoul, Korea began in June. The route flies five days a week and arrives in Osaka at 10:30 a.m., allowing for same-day deliveries in western Japan.

''It's been marketed pretty hard and has been a big success for us,'' Weber said.

This fall, Northwest will build an extra parking pad for another aircraft at Ted Stevens.

''Strategically, it's important for us to secure our options for the future space comes at a premium at some point.''

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