Alaska Air Cargo began commercial service yesterday with its first 737-700 freighter. This is particularly noteworthy because the freighter is the first 737 NG aircraft – either -700 or -800 – to undergo conversion from passenger to freighter configuration.
On Tuesday, the freighter departed Seattle for Alaska, where it will begin scheduled service from the carrier’s Anchorage hub.
The aircraft was converted by Israel Aerospace Industries’ conversion arm, Bedek Aviation Group, in Tel Aviv, and is the first of three freighter-converted 737-700s Alaska Air Cargo will introduce as the carrier phases out operations of its 737-400 combi aircraft. The last of its five-unit 737-400 combi fleet is scheduled for retirement by Oct. 18 of this year.
Wayne Newton, Alaska Airlines’ vice president of airport operations and customer service, called the introduction of the converted freighter “the beginning of a new era” for the airline. “With an all-freight fleet, our cargo business is now a stand-alone operation,” he added.
The converted freighters have a non-stop range of 3,200 miles and a maximum capacity of 42,000 pounds – an increase of 10,000 pounds, compared with the 737-400F, the only remaining freighter currently in Alaska’s fleet.