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Alaska Airlines Delivers Coveted Copper River Salmon To Seattle And Beyond


First freighter packed to the gills with fish touches down at dawn; Airline will fly up to 160,000 pounds by day’s end

SEATTLE — Alaska Airlines’ Boeing 737-400 freighter arrived at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport just after sunrise, packed to the gills with more than 32,000 pounds of Copper River salmon. The arrival of Copper River salmon is anticipated by seafood lovers in a growing number of cities nationwide.

Alaska will deliver up to 160,000 pounds of the coveted fish today on eight dedicated flights from Cordova, Alaska, to Seattle. After arriving in Seattle, much of the fish will depart on flights to cities across the country — from Los Angeles to Boston.

“There is huge demand for wild Alaska seafood like Copper River salmon,” said Matt Yerbic, Alaska’s managing director of cargo. “We’ve made significant investments in our cargo operation to support the Alaska seafood industry and can transport these fish from wild Alaska waters to dinner tables across the country in record time — often in less than 24 hours.”

Today’s first Copper River salmon flight arrived at the airline’s Seattle cargo warehouse at 6 a.m., carrying fish from four seafood processors: Bear and Wolf Salmon Company, Copper River Seafoods, Ocean Beauty Seafoods and Trident Seafoods.

The fish-filled freighter was greeted by Alaska’s “Salmon-Thirty-Salmon,” a 737-400 passenger aircraft painted with a 120-foot-long image of an Alaska king salmon. The World Famous Pike Place Fish Market’s fishmongers ceremonially tossed the first fish off the aircraft before they were presented to waiting fish processors.

Depending on the season’s catch, the airline could transport more than a million pounds of Copper River salmon this year.

Alaska Airlines transports more than 150 million pounds of cargo annually, making it the most extensive air cargo business on the U.S. West Coast of any passenger airline. The carrier plays a significant role in transporting fresh Alaska seafood, flying more than 26 million pounds of it to the Lower 48 states and beyond each year.

As part of a $100 million initiative to improve service to cargo customers, Alaska is modernizing its cargo infrastructure and transitioning to a fleet of larger, more-advanced cargo aircraft. The airline converted a 737-400 to a freighter last June, and this year added three 737-400 “combi” aircraft, which transport passengers in the back and main-deck cargo in the front. Alaska will add two more 737-400 combis by the end of 2007.


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