Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (IATA: ANC, ICAO: PANC, FAA LID: ANC) is a major airport in the U.S. state of Alaska located 4 nautical miles (7.4 km) southwest of downtown Anchorage. Constructed in 1951 as Anchorage International Airport, it was renamed by the Alaska Legislature to honor former long-standing U.S. Senator Ted Stevens. It is Alaska Airlines' third-largest hub, after Portland. It is also a major cargo hub and, as of 2010, ranks as the fifth busiest airport in the world by cargo traffic, after Hong Kong, Memphis, Shanghai, and Seoul.
Anchorage was a common stopover for passengers flying to East Asia from the 1960s to the 1980s because Chinese and Soviet airspace were off-limits and because the first generation of jets and widebody airliners did not have the range to fly nonstop across the Pacific Ocean. Some passenger aircraft still stop at Anchorage on flights between Asia and the eastern United States. On September 1, 1983, one of these flights, Korean Air Lines Flight 007 was shot down by a Soviet pilot who had mistaken it for a spy plane, after unintentionally violating Soviet airspace. Cargo carriers, which benefit from short route segments, continue to use Anchorage frequently.
Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport's passenger traffic has hovered around the five million mark for the last 10 years, apart from in 2002 when the airport suffered a 13% drop in traffic. Fairbanks and Juneau are the next busiest airports though neither managed more than half a million passengers last year. Anchorage traffic peaks in June, July and August when passenger numbers are twice as high as between October and April.