Alaska Airlines plans $60 million in terminal, cargo improvements statewide

Alaska Airlines has launched a $60 million plan to improve its terminals and other facilities around the state over the next few years. The airline is also expanding its cargo capacity to serve Alaska, company officials said May 16.

The projects include upgrades and potential expansions at some of the 13 terminals owned by the airline, in some cases for the first time in decades, Marilyn Romano, the airline’s vice president of the Alaska region, said.

“We’ll be taking a hard look at each one,” she said.

“The details have not been finalized,” Scott Habberstad, the airline’s managing director for Alaska, said the day after the announcement.

It’s too early to say whether the terminals in Wrangell and Petersburg will be included, he said.

Last fall, Habberstad said the airline would like to improve passenger flow at the two small terminals. The tight space for passengers waiting to board after they clear TSA screening can create delays on heavy traveler days. But the buildings’ footprints are limited by the boundaries of the airline’s state airport property lease and parking areas.

Alaska Airlines’ terminals over the years have become congested, particularly in Bethel, Kodiak, Nome and Utqiagvik, as larger jets began hauling more passengers and as post-9/11 security measures took up more space, company officials said last week.

The airline will also make improvements at terminals it does not own, such as to employee work areas at Fairbanks International Airport.

The plan is a follow-on to the airline’s upgrades in Alaska that began around 2016, which included light remodels at some terminals, Romano said. In 2018, also as part of that earlier effort, the airline spent $50 million to construct a new maintenance facility and hangar at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.

That work stalled when the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted travel, shipping and construction, among other problems, Romano said.

The new list of projects should be completed in 2027, she said.

Some work might not be noticed by travelers, such as a required ramp replacement in Utqiagvik that began last year, Romano said.

Some of it will be very obvious, she said. Design studies are underway to determine the best way to upgrade terminals in Kodiak and Bethel.

The airline is the only major domestic carrier in the U.S. that owns and maintains its own terminals, Romano said. Those are all in Alaska, where the Seattle-headquartered company got its start nearly a century ago.

The airline has also started adding to its cargo capacity in Alaska.

The cargo operations in Juneau will be expanded, Romano said. The airport is a cargo hub for several Southeast communities, including Wrangell, and the airline’s cargo facility there is aging, said Tim Thompson, the company’s public affairs manager for Alaska.

The airline operates a weekly freighter from Seattle that includes a stop in Wrangell,

As part of its cargo improvements, the company is adding two 737-800 freighters, converted from passenger aircraft, he said. That will boost its cargo fleet to five jets, from the current set of three smaller 737-700s.

The first of the converted freighters began flying on May 16, Thompson said. The second should be operating by the end of June.


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