Inbound Logistics | April 2023


W hen you consider the vast expanse of land Alaska occupies, its extreme weather, limited road and rail infrastructure, and relatively sparse population, it becomes easy to assume that developing reliable supply chains would be an impossible endeavor here. As a result, its residents and businesses would have to make do without the goods and services that are more readily available in, say, Boston or Los Angeles.

global transportation and logistics hub,” Dahlin says. The Anchorage Pacic Air-to-Sea Service (ANC PASS) is one example of this potential. ANC PASS consists of an air charter ight from Asia to Anchorage, transloading in Anchorage to an ocean vessel, and then using ocean transportation to move to Seattle/ Tacoma. It then shifts to truck for delivery to the nal destination. SHORTENING TRANSIT TIMES This multimodal route shortens transportation time, curtails costs for traditional container lines, and avoids the West Coast port congestion that has recently hampered many shippers. For example, transit time for shipments traveling from Shanghai over the ocean and truck typically ranges from 25 to 29 days. With ANC PASS, that drops to seven to 19 days. And while the melting of Arctic ice prompts environmental concerns, it may benet shippers, as sea routes will stay navigable for longer periods. Shipments currently heading from Japan to Rotterdam, Netherlands, go through the Suez Canal, for transit time of about 30 days. Shifting these shipments to the Northern Sea Route along the northern coast of Russia could cut transit time to about 18 days, the World Economic Forum estimates. “This potentially positions Alaska to be a bigger player in the global supply chain,” Dahlin says.

That’s not quite the case. The commitment and dedication of the companies that operate and support Alaska’s supply chains enable many residents of the 49th state to lead lives remarkably similar to those in the rest of North America—albeit, often more bundled up. “You’d think that wouldn’t be possible, but it is,” says Art Dahlin, vice president and Alaska general manager with TOTE Maritime Alaska. “The reliability of the Alaska supply chain, even in extreme conditions, makes it possible for Alaskans to get the goods and services enjoyed by the lower 48 communities,” says Michael Johnson, president of Span Alaska. At the same time, “Alaska remains the closest thing to a frontier still left in North America,” Johnson says. “Even if you live in a metropolitan area, such as Anchorage or Fairbanks, you can still be steps away from the wilderness.” Spanning about 586,400 square miles, Alaska is one-fth the size of the lower 48 states combined, giving its approximately 734,000 residents plenty of room. CENTER OF THE WORLD The state also boasts more than 33,900 miles of shoreline, including more than 6,000 miles of coastline. Alaska borders two oceans: the North Pacic and the Arctic. It’s also home to the tallest mountain in North America, Mt. Denali, and can claim 94 lakes whose surface area tops 10 square miles. “It’s a unique place,” Johnson adds. While Alaska’s size, weather, and limited infrastructure present real challenges, the state also offers several logistical advantages. One is its location.

When you look at a at-earth map, Alaska appears “at the top and out of the way,” says Darren Prokop, Ph.D., professor of logistics at the University of Alaska Anchorage. “But look at Alaska on a globe and suddenly it is at the center of the world.” The city of Anchorage, for example, is within 9.5 hours ying time to 90% of the industrialized world. “No city in the lower 48 can say that,” he adds. About 80% of air freight ying from Asia and destined for mainland United States is contained in air cargo freighters that lay over and refuel at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. Its location has also helped make Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport a busy trans-shipment point, says Alex McKallor, chief operating ofcer with Lynden. The airport is equidistant between New York and Tokyo, and is the second busiest airport in the United States, based on landed weight of cargo aircraft. “Alaska’s location offers a real opportunity for the state to develop as a

Anchorage is within 9.5 hours flying time to 90% of the industrialized world. The city’s location has helped make Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport the second busiest airport— based on landed weight of cargo aircraft—in the United States.

36 Inbound Logistics • April 2023

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