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This airport is the key to the cold war, will it happen again?

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This is airport which is the key to world aviation for all time The cold War. Will this happen again?

The name is Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. This tiny airport at the top of the globe has a backdrop in Alaska’s snowy Chugach Mountains.

Its existence serves a city of 300,000 people. However, with its position, this could be the airport with the best location in the world today.

Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport is a humble cargo hub. Having the same distance between New York and Tokyo, it only takes 9.5 hours of flying time from 90% of the industrial world.

Now, more than 30 countries have banned Russia from their airspace. Russia then responded by closing the airspace of Ukraine and Belarus, making Anchorage Airport so strategic.

Stopover city

Completed in 1951, Anchorage Airport for 40 years became a popular stopover for commercial passenger flights traveling from Europe to East Asia during the Cold War. At that time the Soviet Union’s airspace was very limited.

When international relations thawed in the 1990s, airlines were finally able to take the best route across the vast territory of Russia. That allows for cutting costs, flying time, and ticket prices.

So Anchorage established its current role as a major hub for cargo traffic and a modest airport for seasonal passenger flights. Currently, the facility handles about five million passengers per year. (By comparison, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport handled more than 110 million passengers in 2019).

But then, when the Corona virus pandemic kicked off in early 2020, Anchorage returned to the global spotlight as it played a key role in the international transportation of essential medical goods. It even became the busiest airport in the world in a short time.

Airplanes flying upwards to shorten the distance. The advantage of Anchorage Airport is that planes can fly full of cargo with only half the fuel. They flew to Anchorage, refueled and then continued to their destination.

Alaskan Anchorage Airport (Photo: iStock)

cargo airport

At the height of the pandemic, Anchorage Airport handled nearly 130 wide-body cargo planes a day. They had to use the new area of ​​the airport to accommodate parked planes.

In 2020, the airport will also host the heaviest aircraft ever built, the Antonov An-225 Mriya cargo plane. The plane was destroyed recently in Ukraine.

By 2022, the airport’s division operations manager, Trudy Wassel, told CNN in early March there were 115 wide-body aircraft a day. That equates to about 300 hotel rooms for cargo crews per night.

Anchorage is a hub for UPS and FedEx. The airport handled about 3.6 million metric tons in 2021 alone.

With Russian airspace off limits again, Wassel said the airport was ready to adapt if operators needed to use the airport due to the current situation.

“Our ground handlers can change planes in about an hour and 40 minutes depending on the airline’s needs,” he said.

Airplane flight distance increased drastically

The airline was forced to make a tortuous and uneconomical diversion to avoid Russian airspace. This longer flight time increases costs for staff, fuel and maintenance.

However, Anchorage is unlikely to return to Cold War passenger traffic levels. Because, explains Ian Petchenik, director of communications for FlightRadar24, the range of commercial aircraft has increased dramatically since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.

No one knows how long the current situation will continue. But in the weeks and months ahead, airlines will be working hard to figure out their new routes and schedules.

This is not only a matter of economic factors, but will also involve a battle for airport slots. Because the carefully planned world of aviation is now in chaos again.

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