A record amount of cargo flowed through the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport last year as the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted global air travel and shipping, Alaska transportation officials said on Wednesday.
About 3.5 million tons of cargo moved through the airport in 2020, up 16% from the record set the previous year, according to a statement from the airport.
The pandemic reduced passenger flights that once also carried cargo, leading to an increase in international cargo passing through Anchorage. The rise in online shopping and the shipment of pandemic-related medical supplies also boosted demand for air cargo, the statement said.
Cargo numbers at the airport are expected to remain strong this year, airport director Jim Szczesniak said in the statement.
The pandemic did hurt passenger traffic at the airport. That number fell to 2.2 million passengers, down 62% from the record levels seen in 2019, as tourism in Alaska surged that year, according to the state’s annual airport report.
Companies have proposed new or improved cargo facilities at the airport that are expected to help grow future cargo traffic at the airport, including a new 700,000-square-foot, climate-controlled facility.