New Anchorage cargo terminal could bring faster packages and industry expansion

North Link Rep speaks at the Groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday, October 11, 2023 (Shiri Segal/Alaska Public Media)
NorthLink Aviation CEO Sean Dolan speaks at the groundbreaking ceremony for the new terminal Wednesday, October 11, 2023 (Shiri Segal/Alaska Public Media)

Construction is underway for a new cargo terminal at the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, which the owners believe will transform the city’s freight industry.

NorthLink Aviation celebrated the groundbreaking of their inaugural project on Oct. 11, a 120 acre facility that provides infrastructure for the airport’s growing cargo business.

Anchorage International is already the third busiest cargo airport in the world, but most of that traffic consists of planes stopping to refuel on their way to the Lower 48. 

NorthLink CEO Sean Dolan said with their new warehouse space, carriers will be able unload their packages and clear customs in Anchorage, allowing them to avoid the congestion of hub airports in places like Chicago or LA.

“Instead of taking it to LAX, they could go to Ontario, California, or they could go to San Bernardino,” Dolan said. “Those airports are streamlined and in a better position to be able to get cargo off the plane and onto people’s doorsteps faster.”

Dolan said that also means Alaskans could get their packages faster, because companies will be able to distribute packages directly from Anchorage instead of sending them to the Lower 48 and back up.

North Link Rep and guests involved in the new airport terminal throw dirt from gold shovels at the Groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday, October 11, 2023 (Shiri Segal/Alaska Public Media)
Northlink CEO Sean Dolan and Airport Director Criag Campbell throw dirt from gold shovels at the groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday, October 11, 2023 (Shiri Segal/Alaska Public Media)

The company expects to create thousands of jobs during construction and hundreds in the long term. But Dolan said since the city has plenty of open jobs, he’s more concerned with creating a place where people will want to work. That’s why they’ll offer onsite childcare – a service in short supply in Anchorage.

“I think a lot of times people forget that, you know, professionals have children. And it’s just something that everybody wrestles with,” Dolan said. “And we believe this is just the way to really develop a strong team and take care of the folks that are taking care of our customers.”

A small group of nearby residents were concerned the project would contaminate their groundwater, but Dolan said the company went through a rigorous environmental review process that found they could safely proceed. In an effort to be a good neighbor, he said they’re saving 40 acres as a buffer zone and building a berm to help with noise pollution.

Dolan said they’ve also taken a number of sustainability-minded steps, like power hookups to allow parked planes to turn off their engines, and the airport’s first ever system to collect and recycle deicing fluid, which currently drains into Cook Inlet.

The NorthLink terminal is expected to be fully operational by the end of 2025.

Michael Fanelli reported on economics and hosted the statewide morning news at Alaska Public Media. 

Previous articleAlaska Permanent Fund leaders may recommend constitutional amendment to fix fiscal problem
Next articleGirdwood skier dies in paragliding crash near Eagle River