Alaska Airlines delivers Copper River salmon to the Lower 48

Alaska Airlines’ prized “Salmon-thirty-Salmon” 737.

For many places around the world, the delivery of fresh salmon is a commonplace occurrence. But in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, there is a hotly anticipated annual return for seafood fans throughout the region. San Juan Capistrano may have its swallows, but Seattle – the home of Air Cargo World – has it Copper River salmon, flown in fresh this morning on an Alaska Airlines 737-400 Combi.

The 1,300-mile journey from the Copper River, near the town of Cordova, Alaska – one of the richest salmon fisheries in the world – to Seattle each May marks the unofficial kickoff of the summer salmon grilling season. The carrier scheduled a total of four flights throughout the day, which will total 38.5 short tons of Copper River salmon, to be distributed to markets in Anchorage and the Lower 48 states.

“Alaska Airlines plays a significant role in supporting the Alaska seafood industry, which is recognized worldwide for its sustainable fishing practices,” said Jason Berry, Alaska Air Cargo managing director. “Our cargo employees are working around the clock to ensure we deliver the first catch of the coveted wild Copper River salmon to market, often within 24 hours of being pulled from the water.”

Each year, Alaska Air Cargo partners with the state of Alaska’s three largest seafood processors – Ocean Beauty Seafoods, Trident Seafoods and Copper River Seafoods – to bring the coveted fish to Seattle, Anchorage and points beyond.

Returning to the very important metal which bridges Alaskan salmon with the lower-48, Alaska Air currently operates a freighter fleet of five 737-Combis and a single 737-400F. Beginning this month however, the combis will be gradually phased-out, and replaced with two freighter-converted 737-700Fs. The first of the 737-700Fs (an ex-Alaska passenger aircraft) is currently undergoing conversion in Tel Aviv by IAI Bedek, and is expected to be redelivered to Alaska sometime next month.

Coinciding with today’s delivery will be an “Iron Chef”-style contest, called the Copper Chef Cook-off, in which three top Seattle chefs will compete for the best salmon recipe in a 30-minute period, using a 45-pound king salmon donated by Ocean Beauty Seafoods. The winning Copper River salmon recipe will be announced on the airline’s Twitter account @AlaskaAir.

As we head into the weekend, we figure our readers’ stomachs may be rumbling for such tasty cuisine, so check out Alaska Airlines’ blog to download the recipes created by these master chefs, and find out more about the intertwined histories of Alaska Airlines and the North Star State’s colorful fishing history. Bon appetit!

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