This is now the busiest airport in the world … On Saturdays

This is now the busiest airport in the world ... On Saturdays

(CNN) – Alaska’s Anchorage International Airport has no Singapore Changi waterfalls and razzmatazz, or Chicago O’Hare has eight runways.

However, this modest little airport, equidistant between New York and Tokyo, has recently increased unexpectedly.

It is currently the busiest airport in the world … at least on some Saturdays.

“Saturday is a busy day for cargo operations, which is our bread and butter, but also the slowest day for passenger service,” said airport manager Jim Szczesniak via video call.

“For example, we had 744 flight operations in Anchorage on Saturday, May 2, only 579 in Chicago and only 529 in Atlanta.”

Anchorage also received the world’s busiest title on Saturday (April 25th).

Top of the world

Airports Council International’s annual report on the busiest airports in the world, published earlier this week, leads to sober reading.

According to ACI World general manager Angela Gittens, the coronavirus pandemic means passenger traffic is currently reduced by more than 90%. “The demand is almost gone.”

However, one area that is on the rise is cargo traffic, so Anchorage Airport – at ordinary times, the world’s fifth busiest cargo airport – is on the rise.

“We are seeing an increasing demand for load capacity,” says Szczesniak. “The reason for this is that most of the materials needed to combat Covid in North America are produced in Asia.”

Anchoring is positioned to provide excellent geographical advantage, saying the airport has 9.5 hours of flight time from 90% of the industrialized world.

Literally, its position at the top of the world means “flying up and up” planes [of the globe] shortening the distance, “says Szczesniak.

“The advantage of anchoring is that the planes are full of cargo but can only fly up to half the fuel. They fly anchoring, then refuel and then go to their destination.”

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Maybe small airport

Calling his story to mind Gander Airport On September 11, in Newfoundland, which welcomes 7,000 displaced airline passengers and inspires the Broadway musical “Come From Away”.

“We use different areas of the airport to cover the parking space we wouldn’t normally do,” says Szczesniak.

The airport recently hosted the heaviest airplane ever built, the Antonov An-225 Mriya cargo plane, as well as some sports titans – the New England Patriots plane stopped here because there were planes flying between Boston and Asia.

To prevent Covid-19 from spreading, the aircraft crew from Anchorage “minimizes their ability to interact with Alaskans”, explains Szczesniak. They provide private transportation to and from hotels and avoid confusion with the ground crew.

Vacation destination

“We think that Post-coronavirus will be a very popular tourist destination in Alaska,” says Szczesniak. “You know, they’ll tell you to stay six meters away from people. You can come here in Alaska to have a great holiday and not be near someone’s six miles.”

The airport has about 60 glaciers in a 50-mile radius, and these most spectacular US states are covered by powerful national parks and groves. There is hiking, fish, rafting and more; Ideal for backwoods adventurers.

The airport is preparing for the return of passenger service by upgrading the cleaning program to Covid-19 war-ready standards using all hospital-grade disinfectants.

At the terminal, they added disinfecting UV LED lights to the escalator railings. “As the handrail passes through the machine, it will be sprayed with UV light to kill germs, viruses, or bacteria that happen to it,” Szczesniak said.

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$ 97 billion loss

During our video call between London and Anchorage, there were 90 airplanes in the air from the British capital to Alaskan airport, according to real-time flight tracking site Flightradar24.

“There are now more planes in the sky than Anchorage and Anchorage than for both JFK and LaGuardia,” Szczesniak says.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the busiest airport in the world, saw 110.5 million passengers in 2019. However, in the first quarter of 2020, Atlanta airport recorded 20.7 million passengers, a decrease of more than 18% compared to the same period last year.

The aviation industry faces a $ 97 billion fall in revenue in 2020, and recovery is likely to be a slow and painful process.

The team at Anchorage is proud of their efforts to facilitate the transportation of medical supplies during this global need period – but they hope that as time registrants, their time will be very short.

CNN’s Marnie Hunter contributed to this report

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