Alaska Airlines will be phasing out its combination cargo and passenger planes used in Southeast Alaska and elsewhere around the state.
That announcement was reported Tuesday in the Alaska Dispatch News.
The airline has five 737-400 “combi” aircraft capable of carrying up to 72 passengers along with a load of cargo, often seafood, in the front of the cabin. Company spokesperson Halley Knigge says the plan is to phase out those planes by 2017. “This is part of a broader plan to eventually phase out all of our 737-400 aircraft,” Knigge said. “We have 26 passenger 737-400 aircraft in our fleet as well. As we continue to grow we’re adding younger, more fuel efficient aircraft like the 737-900 ER, which can carry about 25 percent more passengers than a 400 while using the same amount of fuel.”
Knigge said it’s too early to say what the change will mean for schedules in Alaska communities that are served by the “combi” planes. She said those five jets will be replaced with three converted 737-700 all-cargo freighters.
“So the benefit of having a dedicated fleet of freighter is that it will allow us to offer a cargo schedule that really better serves the cargo needs of the communities we serve in the state of Alaska, as well as having dedicated full passenger aircraft as well,” she said. Knigge said the change represents a commitment by the company to continued freight service in rural Alaska.