Alaska Airlines’ cargo division, Alaska Air Cargo, has selected Boeing to convert two passenger aircraft to freighters (P2F). Boeing will convert two 737-800 aircraft that Alaska will use for its cargo operations in Alaska.

Boeing converting Boeing aircraft

The two 737-800 Boeing Converted Freighters (BCF) will come from Alaska’s fleet of passenger aircraft and be leased from BBAM. BBAM is an aircraft leasing and management company with experience in freighter conversions.

air cargo

Photo: Alaska Airlines

The first conversion will begin in 2023, and the second will be complete by early 2024. Once converted, the aircraft will have a payload of almost 50,000 pounds and a range of almost 2,800 nautical miles.

“Fleet expansion positions our growing cargo business to meet increased demand that we see from industry and consumers. The 737-800 aircraft provides 40%more load space than our current 737-700 freighters, essentially doubling Air Cargo’s total freighter lift capacity. We look forward to getting these 737-800s into service to support Alaska’s supply chain and connect cargo to over 100 cities we serve across North America.” – Adam Drouhard, Managing Director, Alaska Air Cargo

Boeing’s Vice President of Converted Freighter and Engineering Services, Mike Doellefeld, added,

“We are pleased that Alaska Air Cargo has selected the 737-800BCF to meet growing demand for air cargo in the state of Alaska, and across its network. By introducing the reliable 737-800BCF to its existing freighter fleet, Alaska Air Cargo can offer more capacity where its customers need it most – and with lower emissions.”

The conversion of the two 737-800s will take place in Costa Rica at Cooperativa Autogestionaria de Servicios Aeroindustriales (COOPESA) and will bring Alaska Air Cargo’s fleet to five aircraft, all 737 converted freighters. The five 737s are aircraft dedicated solely to cargo operations, but the airline also uses the holds of passenger aircraft for cargo on more than 1,200 daily flights. Alaska Air cargo services more than 100 destinations in North America, 20 of them being in the state of Alaska.

Early planning

Alaska originally announced in April that it was going to convert to 737-800s from its passenger fleet to freighters. At the time, the airline had not decided on a contractor to perform the conversions and had sent out a request for proposals. It was estimated that each conversion would cost about $5 million. At the time, Adam Drouhard hinted at the possibility of more conversions in the future, stating, “I don’t think two is the magic number.”

Alaska Airlines Air Cargo hops shipment

Photo: Alaska Airlines

In the middle of the pandemic, Alaska halted its “2020 Great Land Investment Plan”, a $50 million project that involved upgrading and expanding its cargo terminals in Alaska. In April, Regional Vice President Romano said that 12 terminals remained that needed more attention. Development work stopped during the pandemic on its Bristol Bay terminals and others in both Western and Northern Alaska.

Simple Flying has contacted Alaska Airlines for an update on its 2020 Great Land Investment Plan but has not received a reply at the time of publication.


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