New Anchorage airport manager looks to China for growth

Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport general manager Jim Szczesniak stands in front of an aerial photo of the airport Monday in the Capitol. He said he would like to see the airport build on its role in global cargo transport. (Photo by Andrew Kitchenman/KTOO)

The new general manager for Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport is looking to add more flights to China.

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Jim Szczesniak started work Jan. 22 and discussed his plans during a recent visit to Juneau. He said the airport’s role in the economy is at the center of his work, which includes adding and maintaining services for the coming summer tourism season.

China is a particular focus.

“We’ve had some exciting meetings with (the) Chinese delegation lately, that’s included some potential talks of air service over there,” Szczesniak said. “We’re going to continue to push that avenue to see if we can get some direct access to Asia.”

The Chinese officials included representatives from the Sichuan Province and from a Chinese airline.

Szczesniak also said he wants to build on Anchorage’s role as a global center for air cargo transport. For instance, he’d like to see the airport have facilities for keeping certain types of inventory on hand for fast shipping, such as pharmaceuticals or mining equipment parts that could be sent to Asia quickly.

“We want to take that air cargo power and essentially leverage that by developing some of the property on the airport to help with international trade,” Szczesniak said.

Szczesniak is a former Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport executive who has worked mostly recently at a T-shirt company. He said his experience with air cargo at O’Hare led to his interest in the Anchorage job.