(CNN) – Anchorage International Airport in Alaska lacks the Waterfalls and Razmataz in Singapore Changi or the Chicago’s eight O’Hare runways.
But this modest little airport – equally between New York and Tokyo – has recently seen an unexpected rise in popularity.
It is now the busiest airport in the world … on at least some Saturdays.
“Saturday is a busy day for freight, and it is our bread and butter, but it is also the slowest day for passenger service,” airport manager Jim Szyzniak explains in a video call.
“For example, on Saturday, May 2, in Anchorage we made 744 flights, while in Chicago it was only 579 and Atlanta 529 only.”
Anchorage also briefly snatched the world’s busiest title on Saturday 25 April.
Top of the world
According to Angela Getins, general manager of ACI World, the coronavirus pandemic means that passenger traffic is currently down more than 90%. “The request has gone largely.”
However, one area that was on the rise was the movement of cargo, which is why Anchorage – in normal times, the fifth busiest cargo airport in the world – is on the rise.
Szczesniak says: “We are seeing an increasing demand for freight capacity.” “This is primarily because a lot of supplies to fight against Covid in North America are produced in Asia.”
Anchorage is positioned at the perfect geographical advantage, in what the airport says is 9.5 flying hours from 90% of the industrialized world.
Its location, literally at the top of the world, means that the planes “fly over and above the summit [of the globe] Szczesniak says to shorten the distance.
“The advantage of anchorage is that it can fly full of goods but only half full of fuel. It flies to anchorage and then returns fuel and then to its destination.”
The small airport that you can
“We use different areas of the airport to accommodate the parking lots that we wouldn’t normally like,” Szcinjak says.
The airport recently hosted the heaviest plane ever built, the Antonov cargo plane that has 225 maria, as well as some sports giants – the New England Patriots plane stopped here because it was flying supplies between Boston and Asia.
In order to prevent the spread of Covid-19, the crew that passes through Anchorage “reduces their ability to interact with Alaska”, explains Szczesniak. They use private transportation to and from hotels and avoid mixing with ground crew.
“After coronavirus, we believe Alaska will become a popular tourist destination,” Szczesniak says. “You know, they tell you to stay six feet from people. In Alaska, you can come here and have a great vacation, and you will not be six miles from someone.”
There are about 60 glaciers within a 50-mile radius of the airport, and these most beautiful wild American states cover national parks and large reserves. There are hiking, fishing, white water rafting and more; It is ideal for timber adventure adventurers.
The airport is preparing to return passenger service by upgrading its cleaning program to the Covid-19 standards ready for battle, using all hospital category disinfectants.
At the station, they added UV sterilization lamps to the escalator handrail. Szczesniak says, “When the handrail travels through the machine, it will be detonated by ultraviolet radiation to kill any microbes, viruses or bacteria that happen to them.”
$ 97 billion in losses
At the time of the video call between London and Anchorage, there were 90 aircraft in mid-air flying from the UK capital to Alaska Airport, according to the real-time flight tracking website Flightradar24.
Szczesniak says: “There are more planes in the sky right now to and from Anchorage than both JFK and LaGuardia.”
Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the busiest airport in the world, saw 110.5 million passengers in 2019. But in the first quarter of 2020, Atlanta Airport recorded 20.7 million passengers, down more than 18% from the same period last year.
The aviation industry faces a revenue drop of $ 97 billion in 2020, and the recovery is likely to be slow and painful.
The team at Anchorage takes pride in their efforts to facilitate the transportation of medical supplies during this global time – but they hope their time as record-keepers will be unfortunately short short.
CNN’s Marney Hunter contributed to this report