ALPA pointed out in its comments on the DOT action that this is a giant nothing burger.
Little more than a P.R. opportunity for ANC --
"As ALPA explained in the Puerto Rico proceeding, we believe that such relief is no longer necessary given the proliferation of Open Skies Agreements that are in now place with nearly every commercially significant country that provide the same transfer flexibility. Nonetheless, we understand Alaska’s and the Department’s desire to continue the express, if redundant, longstanding exemption relief in Alaska.
The NOAT makes clear under Condition (4) that the transfer authority “will not permit . . . cabotage operations.” ALPA wishes to emphasize on the record that the exemption authority here, particularly as relates to passengers, has no linkage to the so-called “Stevens Amendment” that allows transfer of “eligible cargo” by foreign carriers in limited instances that would otherwise constitute cabotage. Erroneous trade press reports have suggested that the NOAT would allow foreign carriers to establish hubs in Alaska for U.S.-Asia passengers, with various foreign carriers operating all legs of the journey. This is emphatically not the case; the Department did not authorize any passenger cabotage under this exemption, nor could it have done so under existing U.S. law."
They are missing the point. Nobody is proposing to "allow foreign carriers to establish hubs in Alaska for U.S.-Asia passengers, with various foreign carriers operating all legs of the journey"; the purpose of passenger transfer rights is to allow passengers to fly through a U.S. airport while en route to and from other countries.
ANC, for instance, could be a transfer point for anyone wanting to fly from Beijing to Mexico City - a flight too long for non-stop - and those passengers would not have to go through U.S, Customs and Immigration procedures - an option they would not have at any other U.S. airport. (that assumes anyone actually wants to fly from Beijing to Mexico City these days... but that is not the point).
Since other airports in the U.S.A. do not allow for Transit-without-Visa, ANC believes this gives them an advantage - albeit an advantage limited to a relatively small market - for airlines and passengers flying these routes.