Alaska Airlines plans $50 million in improvements for state

FAIRBANKS — Alaska Airlines is planning more than $50 million in new capital investments in Alaska over the next few years.

Alaska Airlines CEO Brad Tilden said the projects include expanded freight service, a new hangar in Anchorage and terminal upgrades at remote airports. The projects are expected to begin sometime in the next two to three years, The Fairbanks News-Miner reported.

Three additional Boeing 737-700 freighters for Alaska Airlines' statewide fleet will also be unveiled as part of the new investments. The passenger planes will replace the airline's existing Boeing 737-400 combi jets, which Tilden said should be phased out by 2017.

Joe Sprague, Alaska Airlines' senior vice president of communications and external relations, said the changes represent a commitment to freight service in rural Alaska, particularly high-volume customers like Red Dog Mine.

"This'll be an opportunity for us to step up our game from a cargo standpoint," he said. "We'll be able to provide dedicated service to big customers."

The larger aircraft will call for the making of a bigger hangar at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, Sprague said. The hangar will likely require an investment of several million dollars, he added.

"We need an indoor location for working on aircraft in the state, and Anchorage is the logical location," Sprague said.


Terminal upgrades to enhance the size of airports located in the state's rural areas are also expected to come as a result of the plan.

Alaska Airlines owns terminal buildings in 11 locations in Alaska. Sprague said the buildings have not yet undergone the 9/11 airline security overhaul, which added more Transportation Security Administration screening in airports across the county. The terminals scheduled for overhauls in Alaska include facilities in Deadhorse and Barrow.

Airline officials said the projects are still in the planning stages.