Seattle-based Alaska Airlines reported strong growth for its cargo unit during the first quarter of 2019, even as the overall U.S. domestic air cargo market simmered to a more tepid growth rate. Operating revenues for the carrier’s cargo and other segments rose 22%, year-over-year, to US$50 million for the three-month period ending on Mar. 31.
Alaska told Air Cargo World revenues were higher on total tonnage that was up 17.9%, compared to the same quarter in 2018, on better utilization of the carrier’s three 737-700BDSFs, and increased belly capacity across the carrier’s passenger network. Capacity was greatly increased in mid-2018 when Alaska began marketing space on the A320/321 fleet it introduced following the acquisition of Virgin America. Previously, Virgin America had not been a player in cargo.
The market has responded positively to the additional capacity offered across the ex-Virgin America fleet. Alaska said it carried some 1,451 tonnes of cargo on its Airbus fleet in the first quarter – equivalent to nearly seventy-one 737-700F flights carrying a maximum payload.
Returning to Alaska’s overall Q1 performance, net income was flat, year-over-year, at $4 million on total revenues that were up 2% to $1.89 billion.