There has been much discussion within air freight circles during the past twelve months as to which airports around the globe are geared up to handle the future e-commerce flow of
Anchorage seems to have won the race since Amazon intends building a distribution center there. Once realized, it would catapult the Alaskan airport, located at the top of the world, to a top position as intercontinental hub for the throughput of e-commerce goods.
Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport is well known by many of the long-haul air cargo operators and their pilots, who use it mainly as a fueling stop on the way to and back from Asia. The
airport has in the meantime turned itself into a useful international hub with a distribution network from there across America. So why not as a future e-commerce distribution point for the same
areas? Exactly this question was recently tabled.
Basically, Anchorage Airport has all the plus points, and this seems now to have been recognised by Amazon. It is reported that they (Amazon) are seriously looking at building a distribution point at ANC in order to gain a better and faster access to the Far East e-commerce markets.
ANC has plenty of space for expansion, good handling facilities, does not suffer from many air traffic control restrictions. As a transfer airport, Anchorage is seen as being ideal because it still has a special deal with the U.S. Department of Transport (DoT) whereby inbound cargoes from other countries can be transferred from aircraft to aircraft without any need to pass customs. Surely a plus point for future e-commerce traffic!
Carriers and shippers maybe well advised to take a second look way up north in Anchorage. Amazon has done, and we can be sure that they will soon start up a distribution point there.
The airport authorities in ANC have it seems also seen the chance to put their airport on the e-commerce map and have allocated quite some funds for facility expansion there.
Have airports adapted themselves?
The e-commerce product needs not only fast modes of transport, but also seamless and unbureaucratic customs and documentation system to ensure that “overnight delivery really means overnight.”
Some say that many of the larger European airports have outed themselves, being too slow to allocate facilities for the future e-commerce traffic as well as being bogged down with slow customs procedures.
Others in Europe, generally secondary airports, such as Liege and Leipzig have been quicker to catch-on and are busy trying to streamline their ports as distribution points.
China is another matter as that problem is not even touched upon. Get in and do it, seems to be their motto. Even the USA is somewhat more flexible with larger operators such as FedEx, UPS and DHL allocating large areas to expand their distribution points. All of this with a minimum of bureaucratic fuss.
Do Amazon & Alibaba dictate the locations?
What basically started off some years back as a sort of trial process, has now turned out to dictate the future of air cargo shipping.
Namely, e-commerce - which more-or-less has its roots in China where Alibaba, the Chinese trading conglomerate was quick to recognize the need to set up a fast and seamless distribution service for goods ordered online.
China, with its massive population, fast growing internet sales services which now almost extend to every corner of the country and a population who in many parts of the country enjoy higher wages - all of this points to the globe’s fastest growing market for online orders and hence, fast delivery. The Chinese have in a short period of time set up large and small effective distribution facilities which can now more-or-less guarantee overnight delivery to many of its inhabitants.
Others in the western hemisphere, such as Amazon, have not been sleeping either and have followed the same pattern in the USA, South America and Europe. It is not just overland / overnight distribution which is of importance. Amazon as well as Alibaba have created their own airlines to carry goods domestically as well as internationally.
John Mc Donagh