Category Archives: Alaska Air Cargo

The End of an Era: Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-400 Combis will retire on October 18

From the Alaska Airlines Blog:

After a weeklong fishing trip in Yakutat, Alaska, retired Captain David Olson found himself on one of the last flights of the 737-400 combis – a plane he piloted for two years straight when he first started flying for Alaska Airlines nearly 36 years ago.

The unique cargo-passenger aircraft will officially retire Oct. 18.

“It’s truly nostalgic,” he said aboard Flight 66. “They’ve been around a long time and brought me some great memories, especially fishing holes.”

Cargo in the front, passengers in the back

reindeer 400 The end of an era: Alaska retires unique cargo passenger ‘combi’ planesA combi is the mullet of airplanes — it’s half cargo in the front and 72 passengers in the back. For decades, it’s served as a lifeline for communities in Alaska that aren’t well connected to the outside world.

Eventually, our five combis will be replaced by a fleet of three dedicated 737-700 freighters, one of which is already in service.

Each combi flight holds four cargo containers called “igloos” — weighing anywhere from 12,000 to 14,000 pounds. The combi can carry just about anything, including boxes of groceries, bouquets of flowers, brand-new cars or even reindeer.

Wayne Coleman, Alaska Airlines lead ramp service agent in Juneau, said “If it fits, it can fly.”

wayne The end of an era: Alaska retires unique cargo passenger ‘combi’ planes

The combi is also used as a way for people get from point A to point B in the nation’s largest state.

“Here, you can’t just hop in a car and drive to where you need to go like you can in the Lower 48,” Coleman said. “If you want to get somewhere, you have to hop on a boat or a plane.”

Getting goods from one city to another in Alaska can be challenging due to its sheer size and rugged terrain.

Recently, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska spoke on the U.S. Senate floor about the important role the combi has played for those who live in her home state.

“It’s really the end of an era,” she said. “They were specifically designed for the special challenges of a very large state, and over their lifespan they have delivered every imaginable thing via airplane in Alaska.”

201 The end of an era: Alaska retires unique cargo passenger ‘combi’ planes

The Milk Run

milk run poster1 The end of an era: Alaska retires unique cargo passenger ‘combi’ planesOn a special route coined “The Milk Run” (it’s literally how people get their milk), Flight 66 flew from Anchorage to Cordova to Yakutat to Juneau earlier this month.

Olson’s coolers of freshly caught silver salmon were stored in the front of the plane, and arrived to Seattle in time for them to still have that straight-off-the-boat taste, like they have every time, he said.

“The best part about these combis is they get sensitive cargo like fish to where it needs to go in plenty of time,” he said. “It’s how a lot of communities in Alaska thrive and how the Lower 48 gets most of its seafood.”

The Milk Run is a daily circuit of Alaska Airlines flights that leave Anchorage and stop about every 45 minutes to deliver goods to towns in Southeast Alaska. From those locations, smaller airplanes usually deliver the cargo and passengers to dozens of nearby villages.

Alaska Airlines is the only major airline in the U.S. to have combi planes, so any flight crews that have had the opportunity to work on this plane are now a part of aviation history.

Out with the old, in with the new

freighter The end of an era: Alaska retires unique cargo passenger ‘combi’ planesAfter a decade of demanding treks, the five 737-400 combis will be replaced by three dedicated 737-700 freighters. One freighter is already actively in service up in Anchorage and two additional cargo planes are still undergoing the conversion process.

All the new freighters are expected to be in service by the end of the year. The combis will likely live out their remaining years as converted freighters with outside parties.

“It’s bittersweet to see their run come to an end, but they were due to retire,” said Jason Berry, Alaska Air Cargo managing director. “As we modernize our fleet we have to make those tough decisions and knew it was time to find new solutions.”

The new 737-700 freighters are the first ever to be converted from passenger jet to cargo plane. They will have 20 percent more cargo capacity, and passengers will now fly separately in new Boeing 737s.

“Although we are sad to see them go we are excited to bring these new freighters to the state of Alaska,” Berry said. “We will be able to continue to serve all of the communities we have served previously and we will be able to offer more lift, more capacity and run on a schedule that is ideal for our cargo customers.”

The evolution of the combi

Before Boeing combis joined our fleet in 1966, Alaska had a long history of carrying a mix of people and cargo – from cows to cars, and anything else they could fit through the doors of our aircraft.

In 1981, Alaska Airlines acquired the first of what would eventually become a fleet of nine Boeing 737-200QC combis – the QC stands for “quick change” because it featured a movable partition, which allowed it to add or remove seats based on how much cargo and how many passengers were onboard.

Pilots said they were especially fond of the -200 combi for its sports car-like handling, powerful engines and ability to get in and out of airports with short runways.

In the all-freight configuration, the 737-200 combis carried up to six cargo containers. The palletized floor allowed for passenger seating to range from 26 with five cargo pallets to 111 in the all-passenger configuration.

Eventually high fuel prices, and increasing maintenance costs and its declining reliability led to its phase-out between 2005 and 2007. The last retired 737-200QC is now at the Alaska Aviation Museum in Anchorage.

Alaska replaced its fleet of nine -200 combis with five 737-400 combis and one -400 freighter. After a lengthy retrofitting and certification process, the first -400 combi began service in 2007.

Even as the aircraft have changed over the years, Alaska remains dedicated to carrying people and cargo throughout the state of Alaska and beyond.

Photos : 2017 Milk Run

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Alaska Air Cargo delivers the first Copper River Salmon to Seattle for the new season

Alaska Airlines (Seattle/Tacoma) announced the opening of the annual Copper Riser Salmon fishing season and the first delivery to SeaTac by Alaska Air Cargo. Here is the announcement:

Alaska (2014) logo

A fish-filled Alaska Airlines jet touched down at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport shortly after 6 a.m. today, carrying 18,000 pounds of wild Alaska Copper River salmon — about 4,500 more pounds than the weight of a Learjet 31. A second plane carrying an additional 30,000 pounds is scheduled to arrive in Seattle around 10:20 a.m. Today officially marks the start of the salmon season that is anticipated by seafood lovers throughout the Pacific Northwest and beyond.

Salmon fishing fleet in Cordova, Alaska (Alaska)(LR)

Above Photo: Alaska Airlines. The fishing fleet off of Cordova, Alaska.

Alaska Airlines will operate up to five more flights today transporting the coveted Copper River salmon caught for three seafood processors: Ocean Beauty Seafoods, Trident Seafoods and Copper River Seafoods. The extra Copper River salmon flights will depart Cordova, Alaska, and arrive in Seattle and Anchorage, Alaska, where the fish will be shipped throughout the Pacific Northwest and across the United States today and through the weekend.

Copper River Salmon (Alaska)(LR)

Above Photo: Alaska Airlines.

Alaska plays a significant role in supporting the Alaska seafood industry, which is recognized worldwide for its sustainable fishing practices. The carrier flew nearly 25 million pounds of fresh Alaska seafood to the Lower 48 states and beyond last year, including nearly 1.2 million pounds of Copper River salmon.

Top Copyright Photo: Brian McDonough/AirlinersGallery.com. Boeing 737-890 N559AS (msn 35178) in the unique “Wild Alaska Seafood” livery and named “Salmon-Thirty-Salmon 2” arrives in Washington (Reagan National).

Alaska Airlines aircraft slide show: AG Airline Slide Show

Bottom Copyright Photo: Michael B. Ing/AirlinersGallery.com. Dedicated freighter, Boeing 737-490 (F) N709AS (msn 28896) lands in Anchorage, Alaska.

Great videos from Alaska Airlines:

 

Alaska Airlines brings the first seasonal Copper River salmon shipment to the “Lower 48”

Alaska Air Cargo (Alaska Airlines) (Seattle/Tacoma) today (May 16) delivered 24,100 pounds of the season’s first shipment of Alaska Copper River salmon to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. The arrival of the fish-filled Boeing 737 marks the start of the summer salmon season and is an annual rite of passage anticipated by seafood lovers throughout the Pacific Northwest.

At least five more Alaska Airlines flights today will transport salmon from Cordova, Alaska, to Anchorage, Seattle and throughout the United States. The flights will have fresh fish from three Alaska seafood processors: Copper River Seafoods, Ocean Beauty Seafoods and Trident Seafoods.

Alaska Airlines plays a significant role in supporting the Alaska seafood industry, which is recognized worldwide for its sustainable fishing practices. Last year, the carrier flew more than 24.5 million pounds of fresh Alaska seafood to the Lower 48 states and beyond, including 1 million pounds of Copper River salmon.

“No other airline delivers more Copper River salmon to the Lower 48 than Alaska Airlines, and making that happen within 24 hours after the fish is pulled from the water is no small feat,” said Betsy Bacon, managing director of Alaska Air Cargo. “Hundreds of employees from across the state of Alaska, Seattle and beyond spend months getting ready for the busy summer fish season.”

5th annual Copper Chef Cook-off

Following the arrival of the first fish, three Seattle-area top chefs — John Howie, owner of Seastar, Jason Franey of Canlis and Ethan Stowell, owner of Tavolata — will compete for the best salmon recipe in Alaska Air Cargo’s fifth annual Copper Chef Cook-off. The chefs will have 30 minutes to prepare and serve the first catch of the season to a panel of judges, which include Seahawks place kicker Steven Hauschka; Jay Buhner, Seattle Mariners Hall of Famer; and Ben Minicucci, Alaska Airlines’ chief operating officer. The airline will announce the winner of the cook-off on Twitter @AlaskaAir. Fish lovers can follow the competition and share their favorite salmon recipes on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #SalmonChef.

Among the onlookers awaiting the arrival of the first fish were 10 Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan MVP Gold members, and representatives from USO Northwest, the U.S. Marines and U.S. Coast Guard, who were invited to sample the season’s first Copper River salmon.

Anchorage hosts First Fish parade

Farther north, Copper River Seafoods and local Anchorage-area restaurants are also welcoming the arrival of Copper River salmon with festivities planned at Alaska Air Cargo at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. Later this afternoon, the seafood company will deliver a ceremonial first fish to seven downtown Anchorage restaurants.

Enhanced seafood quality training program

Copper River salmon shipped on Alaska Air Cargo arrives as fresh as possible to grocery stores and restaurants across the nation, thanks in part to a cool chain training program required of all airline employees who handle perishables. Alaska Air Cargo employees are required to adhere to strict seafood quality standards and pass an annual food quality course.

Seafood processors and shippers follow these cool-chain standards to provide a temperature-controlled environment for proper food handling. The goal is to keep seafood moving rapidly throughout its journey on Alaska Airlines and maintain a consistent temperature range from the time it leaves the water to when it arrives at stores and restaurants.

The first Copper River salmon was brought to SEA with their Boeing 737-400 Combi N765AS.

In other news, Alaska Airlines was awarded its seventh J. D. Power award as the best traditional network carrier.

Top Copyright Photo: Mark Durbin/AirlinersGallery.com. Beautifully displayed, Boeing 737-890 N559AS (msn 35178) is the second Alaska 737 to wear the special “Salmon-Thirty-Salmon” livery in support of the Alaska fisheries industry.

Alaska Airlines: AG Slide Show

Video: the ceremonial fish head “kick-off”:

Bottom Copyright Photo: Michael B. Ing/AirlinersGallery.com. Dedicated as a freighter, Boeing 737-490 (F) N709AS (msn 28896) climbs away from the runway at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC).

Alaska Air Cargo delivers the season’s first Copper River Salmon to Seattle-Tacoma

Alaska Air Cargo (Alaska Airlines) (Seattle/Tacoma) today (May 17) delivered the season’s first shipment of Copper River salmon to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. According to the airline, “the arrival of the coveted Copper River salmon marks the start of the summer salmon season and is anticipated by seafood lovers throughout the Pacific Northwest and beyond.”

The Alaska Airlines plane arrived early this morning with Copper River king and sockeye salmon from three seafood processors: Ocean Beauty Seafoods, Trident Seafoods and Copper River Seafoods. At least four more Alaska Airlines flights today will transport salmon from Cordova, Alaska, to Anchorage, Alaska, Seattle and across the United States.

“We’re proud to be the first to bring wild and sustainable Copper River salmon to seafood lovers across the country, in many cases within 24 hours after the fish is caught,” said Betsy Bacon, managing director of Alaska Air Cargo. “With so much demand for sustainable wild Alaska seafood, airline crews in South-Central and Southeast Alaska will kick into high gear to ship more than 2 million pounds of salmon across our 95-city network.”

Copper Chef Cook-off

Following the arrival of the first fish, three top Seattle chefs will compete to create the best salmon recipe in Alaska Air Cargo’s annual “Copper Chef Cook-off.” Pat Donahue, executive chef of Anthony’s Restaurants and the 2010, 2011 and 2012 Copper Chef winner, will compete against executive chefs John Howie of Seastar Restaurant and Raw Bar, and Chris Bryant of Wildfin American Grill. Also competing against the three chefs in the cook-off will be Master Sgt. Robert Shulman, a 31-year U.S. Air Force Reserve chef representing the 446th Airlift Wing (AW) out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, located in Tacoma, Wash.

The chefs will have 30 minutes to prepare and serve the first catch of the season to a panel of judges, including Jay Buhner, Seattle Mariners Hall of Famer; Mike Fourtner, deckhand on the F/V Time Bandit, as featured on Discovery Channel’s “Deadliest Catch;” Chief Master Sgt. Tony Mack, 446th AW command chief from JBLM; and Jeff Butler, Alaska Airlines’ vice president of customer service-airports and cargo.

In a special tribute to the military, 10 citizen airmen from the 446th AW, joined in the morning festivities to cheer on the four chefs and sample the season’s first Copper River salmon. Among the other onlookers awaiting the freighter’s arrival were five Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan MVP Gold members invited to sample the season’s first Copper River salmon. These frequent fliers donated 500,000 Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles to Fisher House Foundation’s Hero Miles program to attend the event. Hero Miles turns donated frequent-flier miles into free airfare for wounded, injured and ill service members and/or their families who are undergoing treatment at a military or VA medical center and for other authorized events. Through Alaska Airlines’ partnership with Fisher House, the nonprofit that administers the program, nearly 6 million miles were donated last year to assist U.S. servicemembers injured and wounded in service to their country.

“The Copper Chef Cook-off helps to showcase the proud relationship the Air Force Reserves has with Alaska Airlines and hundreds of other employers and industry leaders here in Washington State,” said Chief Master Sgt. Tony Mack, 446th Airlift Wing command chief from Joint Base Lewis-McChord. “Chef is only one of hundreds of vocations in the Air Force Reserve, and allowing one of our finest to compete is a testament to the relationships we have within the community.”

Alaska Airlines and its sister carrier Horizon Air employ dozens of reservists who serve as pilots, aircraft maintenance technicians as well as other air and ground crew. An estimated 10 percent of current Alaska and Horizon employees either still serve in the military or have veteran status.

The airline will use its Twitter account, @AlaskaAir, to announce the winning Copper River salmon recipe. The recipes that will be prepared for the Copper Chef Cook-off are available to download at http://bit.ly/13qe3gS. Fish lovers are encouraged to share their own favorite salmon recipes on Twitter, using the hashtag #SalmonChef.

Enhanced seafood quality training program

Copper River salmon shipped on Alaska Air Cargo this season will arrive as fresh as possible to grocery stores and restaurants across the nation, thanks in part to a cool chain training program required of all airline employees who handle perishables. Alaska Air Cargo employees are required to adhere to strict seafood quality standards and pass an annual food quality course.

Seafood processors and shippers follow these cool-chain standards to provide a temperature-controlled environment for proper food handling. The goal is to keep seafood moving rapidly throughout its journey on Alaska Airlines and maintain a consistent temperature range from the time it leaves the water to when it arrives at stores and restaurants.

Copyright Photo: bruce Drum/AirlinersGallery.com. Alaska Air Cargo’s Boeing 737-490 (F) N709AS (msn 28896) arrives at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport hub.

Alaska Airlines: AG Slide Show