DALLAS – Alaska Airlines (AS) cargo is soaring to new heights with the addition of a new Los Angeles (LAX) route. Slated to start in April, LAX would be the carrier’s first dedicated cargo service south of Seattle.

This expansion marks a significant step forward, not only for the company but also for businesses and consumers across Alaska and all other states. The heart of this move lies in the introduction of two Boeing 737-800 converted freighters.

Alaska Air Cargo Boeing 737-700BCF
Alaska Air Cargo Boeing 737-700BCF. Photo: Alaska Airlines

Introducing Boeing 737-800 Converted Freighters

With the introduction of the two Boeing 737-800BCF, AS aims to bolster its cargo market reach, streamline deliveries, and alleviate strain on its current fleet. According to Adam Drouhard, Managing Director for cargo, the incorporation of the 737-800 cargo jets promises enhanced reliability and fleet balance, translating to a significant 70% increase in overall capacity within the state.

Originally slated for completion last year, the conversions faced delays due to industry-wide challenges such as shortages of skilled labor and supply chain disruptions.

Boeing delivered the first converted freighter in November last year. Despite delays, Boeing’s efforts in retrofitting passenger aircraft for all cargo operations are nearing completion, with both Boeing 737-800BCF scheduled to commence service by mid-March.

The expanded fleet, totaling five freighters, will better position Alaska Air Cargo to serve remote Alaskan communities with vital supplies like medicine, household goods, and fresh produce. Moreover, the enhanced cargo capacity facilitates the transportation of valuable export commodities such as seafood to destinations across North America.

Alaska Air Cargo Boeing 737-700BCF
Alaska Air Cargo Boeing 737-700BCF. Photo: Alaska Airlines

Addressing Challenges, Future Outlook

Addressing the unique operational challenges of Alaska’s air service, the carrier plans to optimize fleet utilization by reducing daily operating time to eight hours and minimizing the number of cycles per aircraft. Alaska Air Cargo currently operates three daily flights on average.

A notable advantage of the Boeing 737-800BCF is its capability to carry an additional 10,000 pounds compared to its predecessors, the 737-700BCF. Furthermore, with a configuration optimized for increased container capacity, these new aircraft offer 40% more space, facilitating more efficient cargo transportation.

Looking ahead, Alaska Air Cargo aims to capitalize on the expanded fleet’s capabilities by exploring new routes and destinations. The airline anticipates direct flights between LAX and various Alaskan cities by 2025, in addition to potential long-distance routes over open water.

“As the new expansion gets going, we want to keep close to Seattle rotation-wise. It makes it simple for us. As we get this set in place, we’ll be looking at opportunities to go direct to Anchorage, or other places like King Salmon, Bethel, Nome, or the Alaska North Slope.”

Adam Drouhard, Managing Director for Alaska Air Cargo

Despite the challenging economic climate in the aviation industry, Alaska Air Cargo remains optimistic about its revenue prospects. AS’s cargo revenue is expected to increase by 10% to 15% in 2024, thanks to a larger cargo fleet and network.

Feature Image: Alaska Air Cargo Boeing 737-700BCF. Photo: Alaska Airlines

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Article source: https://airwaysmag.com/alaska-air-cargo-adds-new-lax-route/

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