Alaska’s first manned flight took place in 1913. In the century since then, air transportation has become a critical link for communities, a cultural milestone, and an economic driver in the 49th State. With Alaska’s vast size, lack of road systems, and distance from other population centers, air travel is a necessity. For this reason, the state has a highly developed aviation sector that is unusually large by several measures relative to its population.

Aviation is both a major industry in the state and an entrepreneurial pursuit for Alaska innovators. As segments of the economy with strong roots in Alaska, both aviation and aerospace emerge from this study as areas of deep economic specialization for the state. With a major air cargo hub, two rocket launch sites, abundant airfields and airspace, and an entrenched aviation culture, Alaska offers real assets to aviation businesses.

Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC) is the hub that connects East Asia, North America and Western Europe. More than 3 million tons of cargo passed through Anchorage in 2018, making ANC second in North America and fifth in the world. Consistently ranking near the top in on-time performance, air cargo carriers find Ted Stevens a reliable and efficient global strategy partner.

As of 2019, major integrators at Ted Stevens include UPS, FedEx, DHL and SF Express. Others include Cathay Pacific Airways, China Airlines, Polar Air Cargo Worldwide, Atlas Air, and Korean Air Lines. Interestingly, 76 percent of Asia to U.S. freighters and 54 percent of U.S. to Asia freighters stop in Anchorage. For many countries, Ted Stevens is the only U.S. gateway airport within freighter range.

Alaska has several Foreign Trade Zones: Ted Stevens International Airport, Fairbanks International Airport and Kodiak, Alaska, are a designated Foreign Trade Zone, and offers the advantage of expanded air cargo transfer rights. These liberalized cargo transfer rights permit air cargo to or from a foreign country to be transferred to another airline in Alaska without being considered to have broken its international journey. U.S. Customs is also known for processing inspections expediently.

Passenger service at Ted Stevens for summer 2018 grew 4.5 percent to accommodate 5.7 million passengers. Heading to domestic markets like Seattle, Los Angeles, Portland, Chicago, and Minneapolis, there are 21 non-stop interstate destinations which connect Alaskans and international travelers with the United States. One can find international, non-stop passenger service to Vancouver, Canada on Air Canada, Reykjavik, Iceland on Iceland Air, Frankfurt, Germany on Condor, and Petropavlovsk, Russia on Yakutia Airlines.

Ship and air routes pass through and over Alaska on the North Pacific’s Great Circle Route. This makes Alaska geographically perfect for connecting businesses worldwide.

  • Foreign Trade Zone status in Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Kodiak
  • Liberalized cargo transfer rights
  • Over 75 percent of air cargo between North America and Asia passes through ANC
  • Average of 500 wide-body aircraft landings per week
  • Less than 9.5 hours from 90 percent of the industrialized world
  • Second in North America and fifth in the world for cargo throughput
  • Over 5 million passengers served annually