Alaska Air Cargo has started operating a new 737-800CF (Boeing Converted Freighter), boosting the capacity and flexibility of its existing dedicated cargo fleet.
The carrier said it would add a second 737-800 freighter to its existing three 737-700 freighters "early next year," doubling its current fleet's payload capacity as it positions for future growth.
"The conversion of passenger aircraft -800s to freighters allows us to build cargo capacity for the long haul," said Adam Drouhard, managing director of Alaska Air Cargo, who noted that the cargo team has invested in infrastructure improvements and new equipment across the state of Alaska to support the freighter fleet growth.
Alaska Air Cargo noted that Ketchikan (KTN), Sitka (SIT), Juneau (JNU) and Bethel (BET) will be among the first in Alaska to benefit from the increased capacity, with expanded freighter service coming to their communities by mid-December.
The new freighters are also in the process of becoming ETOPS-certified, which will enable them to fly long ranges over open water. The aircraft's expanded range will allow the cargo team to explore new routes, such as a possible nonstop from King Salmon (AKN) to Seattle (SEA).
Each 737-800 freighter can carry 10,000 pounds more than a 737-700.
With a configuration that also holds more containers, Drouhard noted that the fleet would have 40% additional space for those holiday gifts flying to and from the North Pole — as well as for essential goods like groceries, medical supplies and building materials travelling to communities in Alaska.
With both bigger freighters in service next year, we’ll also be able to transport more of the state's fresh seafood, including the hundreds of thousands of pounds of sustainable Bristol Bay sockeye salmon that Alaska Air Cargo carry to the lower 48 at the height of summer.
"With a fleet of five, we'll have the flexibility and capacity to do even more drop-ins for fishing communities when the salmon are running," said Shannon Stevens, the carrier's sales manager for Alaska. "We'll be ready to fill those freighters full of fish!"
As the only domestic passenger airline with a dedicated cargo fleet, Alaska Air Cargo carries more than 200 million pounds of freight each year to more than 100 destinations across North America. The addition of the 737-800 freighters – converted from Alaska Airlines’ passenger aircraft by our partner Boeing – sets the stage for continued growth, Drouhard said.
"This puts us in a great position to build and meet the increased demand we are seeing from industry and consumers across our network," he added.