ANCHORAGE (AP) -- FedEx is considering expanding its Anchorage hub to keep pace with a burgeoning Asia market.
In the past few months, the Memphis, Tenn.-based carrier has added about 70 workers in Alaska, bringing its total statewide to almost 1,300, said Dennis Bird, managing director of FedEx's Anchorage hub.
The company said it plans to add 38 pilots to its Anchorage hub over the next year. The hub already employs 274 pilots, about 40 percent of whom live in Alaska.
The company ''is going over the numbers'' to see whether FedEx will need to expand its complex at Anchorage's airport because of its growing business in Asia, Bird said.
The global economy and e-commerce are fueling more trade between the Lower 48 and Asia. The emphasis is on moving goods quickly.
''You look around our sorting center and you see the newest computers, the latest pharmaceuticals, the fashions of the day,'' Bird said. ''So much of what we move has a high rate of obsolescence.''
Air cargo also is increasing as trade barriers are being loosened. This week, the U.S. Senate approved permanent normal trade ties with China.
FedEx and other cargo carriers use Anchorage's location between Asia and the Lower 48 as a pit stop to refuel jets, change crews and swap cargo. By stopping in Anchorage instead of flying directly between the Lower 48 and Asia, they can carry less fuel and more freight.
FedEx averages about 435 flights a month through Anchorage. Its $200 million complex has a package sorting center, flight simulator, hangar and parking pads for 10 wide-body jets, Bird said.
FedEx plans to relocate its Anchorage delivery and pickup operation to a new building at the hub. The new facility should open in 2002.
United Airlines announced last week that it is discontinuing its cargo service because its air-cargo operation is not making enough money.
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