Dock strike boosts Alaska air traffic

Posted: Monday, October 28, 2002

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- The West Coast dock workers lockout has meant a short-term economic boom at airports in Fairbanks and Anchorage.

The lockout ended Oct. 9 when a judge ordered the ports reopened. But because goods are not moving fast enough by ship, they are being shipped by air, creating an increase in transcontinental flights stopping for refueling at Ted Stevens International Airport in Anchorage.

Dave Carlstrom, director of airport marketing for the Fairbanks Economic Corporation, said the Anchorage airport hasn't been able to keep up, so planes started heading to Fairbanks on Saturday.

Carlstrom said the increase in air traffic is significant for Fairbanks.

''From the airport side, it's a good opportunity for us to strut our stuff both as an airport and a community that can rise to the challenge and cope with a substantial surge in activity for what will be an unknown duration.''

Carlstrom said wide-body planes, mostly from Polar Air Cargo and Atlas, will be landing at the airport.

The extra traffic means extra business for the Williams Petroleum Refinery in North Pole, which supplies the roughly 30,000 gallons of fuel for each 747 and it's a boon to area hotels that house airplane crews.

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