Tag Archives: Alaska Airlines

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


SkyWest to acquire 20 additional aircraft, will expand its relationship with Delta and Alaska

Delta Connection-SkyWest Airlines Embraer ERJ 170-200LR (ERJ 175) N252SY (msn 17000612) LAX (Michael B. Ing). Image: 936861.

SkyWest, Inc. has announced additional order of 20 new aircraft and new flying agreements

  • Order includes 15 70-seat Embraer E175 SC aircraft expected to be delivered and placed into service with Delta Air Lines in 2018
  • Order includes five 76-seat Embraer E175 aircraft expected to be delivered and placed into service with Alaska Airlines in late 2017 and early 2018`
  • Terms and economics similar to prior contracts with each partner

    SkyWest, Inc. has reported that it has entered into aircraft purchase agreements and capacity purchase agreements to acquire and fly 15 additional new aircraft with Delta Air Lines and five additional new aircraft with Alaska Airlines. Expected delivery dates for the 20 aircraft run from September 2017 through the end of 2018. These aircraft will be operated by SkyWest Airlines, Inc. a wholly owned subsidiary of SkyWest.

    Of the 20 aircraft, 15 Embraer E175 SC aircraft will fly under an agreement with Delta in a 70-seat configuration. The E175 SC aircraft has an E175 airframe and can be retrofitted to 76 seats in the future. The agreement with Alaska includes five Embraer E175s, with a 76-seat configuration, similar to aircraft SkyWest has previously placed into service with Alaska.

    Combined with last month’s announcement for 25 new aircraft, this announcement results in a cumulative order of 45 new aircraft. Similar structurally to SkyWest’s acquisition of 104 E175s, SkyWest expects to invest approximately $161 million in cash to acquire these 45 aircraft, and to finance the balance of the purchase price with debt. The expected delivery dates for the 45 aircraft run from September 2017 through the end of 2018, with the majority of the deliveries scheduled for mid-2018.


Top Copyright Photo: Delta Connection-SkyWest Airlines Embraer ERJ 170-200LR (ERJ 175) N252SY (msn 17000612) LAX (Michael B. Ing). Image: 936861.

Delta Connection:

Alaska SkyWest:

Bottom Copyright Photo: Alaska SkyWest (SkyWest Airlines) Embraer ERJ 170-200LR (ERJ 175) N186SY (msn 17000606) ONT (Michael B. Ing). Image: 938865.

Alaska SkyWest (SkyWest Airlines) Embraer ERJ 170-200LR (ERJ 175) N186SY (msn 17000606) ONT (Michael B. Ing). Image: 938865.

Alaska Air Cargo introduces the world’s first converted 737-700 freighter

Alaska Air Cargo introduces world’s first converted 737-700 freighter (PRNewsfoto/Alaska Airlines)

Alaska Air Cargo on September 26, 2017 began a new chapter in its business, introducing the first converted Boeing 737-700 cargo aircraft. The aircraft is the first of its kind in the world and was converted from an all-passenger to an all-freight aircraft. The aircraft is entering commercial service on September 26, carrying goods from Seattle/Tacoma to the state of Alaska.

The aircraft was converted over 19 months in Tel Aviv by Israel Aerospace Industries. Alaskapilots flew the converted plane from Tel Aviv to Belfast, Ireland on Sept. 6. From there, the plane touched down on U.S. soil in Bangor, Maine and continued on to Greensboro, North Carolina, for scheduled maintenance. The aircraft was painted in Victorville, California before arriving in Seattle.

Alaska will take delivery of two more converted 737-700 freighters, allowing the new, all-cargo fleet to carry 15 percent more capacity overall. Currently, Alaska operates one 737-400 freighter and four 737-400 combi aircraft, which carry both passengers and cargo. Alaska plans to retire its entire 737-400 combi fleet by October 18, 2017.

State of Alaska

Initially, the new fleet of all-freight aircraft will primarily serve the state of Alaska, and provide regular, scheduled service to 17 communities across the state. Independent of Alaska Airlines’ passenger operation, Alaska Air Cargo will provide more scheduled freight service than any other carrier in the state, and connect customers to 100 destinations across the airline’s route network.

Freighter facts

  • Nonstop range of 3,200 miles
  • Maximum net payload of 42,000 pounds
  • Though smaller in size, the 737-700 freighter can carry 10,000 more pounds of cargo per plane compared to Alaska’s current 737-400 freighter.
  • The registered tail number for Alaska’s converted freighter is N627AS; aircraft N626AS and N625AS are currently undergoing the conversion process in Tel Aviv.

Copyright Photo: Alaska Airlines.

Alaska Airlines named Official Airline of the San Francisco Giants, A321 theme jet coming

Alaska Airlines named Official Airline of the San Francisco Giants (PRNewsfoto/Alaska Airlines)

Alaska Airlines has announced the company has signed an agreement to become the official airline of the San Francisco Giants for the next seven years, extending the partnership that Virgin America established with the organization in 2008. To celebrate this partnership and Alaska’s commitment to the Bay Area, the company unveiled the design for an Airbus 321 featuring the Giants logo and team colors that will begin flying early next year.


The extended partnership features several cobranded elements which will be introduced over the next several months leading into the 2018 season. They include:

  • An Alaska Airlines customized suite located in AT&T Park’s right field with views of McCovey Cove;
  • The naming rights to the AT&T Park Club Level which will be called the “Alaska Airlines Club Level” and be updated to combine the look and feel of the airline with the premium level experiences Giants fans have appreciated on this level of the ballpark; and
  • The new Giants-themed Airbus 321, operated by Virgin America, will feature the iconic Golden Gate bridge in orange across the fuselage with the orange and black Giants logo above the wing and a large black “SF” on the back section of the fuselage.

The Alaska/Giants partnership will also feature many fan-friendly components including:

  • Alaska in-flight Giants offers;
  • Special vacation packages for Giants fans through the Giants Vacations program;
  • Alaska serving as the presenting partner for the Giant Races, which are a series of foot races that include events such as a Half Marathon, 10k, 5k and Kids Race/Family Relay, held in Scottsdale, Sacramento, San Jose and San Francisco and benefit local community groups;
  • Continuation of the highly popular “Two-For-One” Flight Voucher event for the first 40,000 Giants fans attending a Giants home game each season. The first “Two-For-One” event will be this coming Sunday, Sept. 17; and
  • Alaska will launch a seasonal, twice daily flight from San Francisco to Phoenix, Arizona for Giants fans to attend Spring Training in 2018. The flight schedule is being finalized and tickets will go on sale later this year.

Another important element of this partnership will be the collaboration and support of both Alaska Airlines and the Giants on important community initiatives and programs focused on youth and education throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.

Image: Alaska Airlines.

Alaska Airlines salutes the Seattle Mariners on their 40th Anniversary

Alaska introduces the Seattle Mariners 40th anniversary plane. (PRNewsfoto/Alaska Airlines)

Alaska Airlines on June 28, 2017 relesed this statement and photo:

As a symbol of the long-standing partnership between Alaska Airlines and the Seattle Mariners, today Alaska officially unveiled a specially-marked Boeing 737-800, featuring the Seattle Mariners logo and the 40th anniversary design across the fuselage. The official hashtag of the Mariners-Alaska partnership, #MyOhMariners, appears next to the boarding door. Guests seated over the wings will be able to see the hashtag on the plane’s winglets.

Both organizations are dedicated to helping communities both in Seattle and around the world. For every home run hit by a Mariners player during the 2017 season, as part of the Mariners Care program, Alaskawill donate 10,000 airline miles to the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) – Seattle Chapter to help worthy students succeed in education. Miles donated supplement a 1-million-mile seed gift from Alaska Airlines and will help students fly to college tours, travel back and forth between school and home, and participate in a variety of leadership development programs and other programming offered by UNCF. This year there have been 73 home runs to-date and the total is expected to reach the goal of 100 by the close of the season.

Since 2016, Alaska has donated more than 8 million miles to charities and community projects through the Mariners Care program. Alaska also supports Robinson Canó’s RC22 Foundation, that has a mission to help build schools in the Dominican Republic. In November 2015, RC22 opened its first school in Canó’s hometown of San Pedro de Macorís, Dominican Republic.

Photo: Alaska Airlines.

Alaska Airlines to offer nine daily departures from Paine Field in 2018

Alaska Airlines has issued this statement:

Air travel will get a lot easier for flyers living in Snohomish County and North King County, Washington, next year when Alaska Airlines introduces commercial service from Paine Field – Snohomish County Airport. Subject to government approvals, starting by fall of 2018, more than a million North Sound travelers will enjoy shorter commutes to the airport and up to nine daily departures.

Alaska Airlines plans to operate nine daily departures from Paine Field using a fuel-efficient fleet of Boeing 737 and Embraer 175 aircraft.

Groundbreaking on the new terminal is expected in early June, with full details of Alaska’s routes as well as ticket sale information to be announced in early 2018.

Image: Alaska Airlines.

Alaska to retire the Virgin America brand in 2019 but will adopt many brand elements

Virgin America Airbus A320-214 N844VA (msn 4851) SEA (Michael B. Ing). Image: 928791.

Alaska Airlines and Virgin America on March 22, 2017 shared their vision for the future of the combined carrier, as the company solidifies its status as the West Coast’s premier airline.

The group continued:

After careful consideration, the combined company will adopt Alaska’s name and logo, retiring the Virgin America name likely sometime in 2019. However, the combined airline will adopt many of the brand elements that Virgin America enthusiasts love about their favorite airline, including enhanced in-flight entertainment, mood lighting, music and the relentless desire to make flying a different experience for guests. The goal is to create a warm and welcoming West Coast-inspired vibe.

Alaska has been actively growing the airlines’ newly combined networks since closing the merger in December. Earlier this month, the airline announced 21 new markets with 25 new daily departures out of San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles and San Jose, California – marking the largest addition of routes in the company’s history.

Alaska Airlines' "More to Love" merger livery

Above Copyright Photo: Alaska Airlines (Alaska + Virgin America) Boeing 737-990 ER SSWL N493AS (msn 41727) (More to Love) LAX (Michael B. Ing). Image: 936924.

In addition to low fares, network growth and award-winning service, Alaska will spend the next few years making major enhancements to its already award-winning guest experience and incorporating favorite elements of the Virgin America experience.

Enhancements include:

  • Modern, warm and welcoming vibe – Guests will start to see some of the new Alaska brand personality come to life throughout 2017, to create a warm and welcoming West Coast vibe throughout the guest journey. Music from fresh new artists will be featured on planes, in airport lobbies and at gates. In 2018, Alaska will debut an entirely redesigned cabin with new seats and amenities, and has already started to retrofit select Boeing aircraft with expressive blue mood lighting. Modern, stylish uniforms by fashion designer Luly Yang will roll out in mid-2019 for flight attendants, customer service agents, pilots, mechanics and ground crew.
  • Satellite connectivity – Alaska’s entire fleet of Boeing 737 passenger aircraft will be equipped with high-speed satellite Wi-Fi beginning in fall 2018, with the remainder of the Airbus fleet to follow. Both fleets are expected to be fully satellite-equipped by the end of 2019.
  • More premium seats – Building on Alaska’s new First Class and Premium Class seating sections that debuted earlier this year, premium seating will be expanded across the Airbus fleet beginning in the fourth quarter of 2018. The number of First Class seats will increase by 50 percent (going from eight seats in the Airbus First Class cabin to 12) and are customized for enhanced comfort, featuring 41 inches of pitch, improved seatback storage pockets, cup holders, footrests and personal power outlets throughout the cabin. The redesigned Airbus cabins will also feature 18 new Premium Class seats with 35 inches of pitch and complimentary beer, wine and cocktails.
  • The country’s top-ranked frequent flier program – In 2018, Alaska Mileage Plan will become the sole loyalty program for both airlines, offering guests more rewards, an expansive global partner network and the only major airline loyalty program that still rewards a mile flown with a mile earned on Alaska and Virgin America flights. Members of Alaska Mileage Plan enjoy some of the most generous benefits in the industry including complimentary upgrades, award travel starting at 5,000 miles one-way (plus taxes and fees) and a faster path to elite status compared to other airlines. With Alaska and Alaska Global Partners, members can earn and redeem miles to more than 900 destinations worldwide.
  • Complimentary upgrades – With 50 percent more premium seats being introduced to the Airbus fleet, elite loyalty members will enjoy the most generous complimentary upgrades in the industry. Mileage Plan MVP Golds and above are upgraded to First Class or Premium Class 75 percent of the time (based on average historic system wide rates of upgrade) on Alaska Airlines flights. Complimentary upgrades on Airbus aircraft will debut for the first time ever in late 2018.
  • Free movies – In January, Alaska launched a temporary promotion offering its entire catalog of more than 200 movies and TV shows for free. Starting now, free entertainment on guests’ own devices will be a permanent feature on its Boeing fleet and the same free library of movies and TV shows will expand to Airbus aircraft via Red entertainment system in August 2017. Guests on Airbus aircraft will continue to enjoy access to early release movies for purchase.
  • Free Chat™ – In January 2017, Alaska became the first and only U.S. airline to offer Free Chat onboard and will expand Free Chat to Airbus-operated flights in August 2017. Guests can stay connected to friends and family on the ground via Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and iMessage.
  • West Coast-inspired food and beverage – Alaska and Virgin America continue to enhance their fresh, healthy, West Coast-inspired onboard food and beverage menus. Guests of both airlines enjoy craft brews, premium wines and delicious food options. By June 2017, Alaska First Class passengers will be able to pre-select meals before they fly, and by early 2018, Alaska’s Main Cabin passengers will be able to pre-pay for their meals before they fly. Food pre-ordering will be extended to Airbus flights sometime in the future.
  • Lounge expansion – By early 2019, guests will be able to relax in refreshed and expanded airport lounges in Seattle, Portland and Los Angeles, as well as new lounges in San Francisco and at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. The expansion plans will double the square footage of Alaska’s airport lounges. Members also currently enjoy access to more than 60 partner lounges throughout the United States and around the world.

Alaska Airlines and Virgin America along with their regional partners, fly 40 million customers a year to 118 destinations with an average of 1,200 daily flights across the United States and to Mexico, Canada, Costa Rica and Cuba.

Top Copyright Photo: Virgin America Airbus A320-214 N844VA (msn 4851) SEA (Michael B. Ing). Image: 928791 (all others by Alaska Airlines).

Alaska Airlines aircraft slide show:

Virgin America aircraft slide show: