Alaska Airlines Is Testing Boeing 737s For Cargo-Only Flights

Seattle-based Alaska Airlines is currently putting its Boeing 737 jets to the test as cargo-only aircraft during this…

Alaska Airlines Is Testing Boeing 737s For Cargo-Only Flights

Seattle-based Alaska Airlines is currently putting its Boeing 737 jets to the test as cargo-only aircraft during this COVID-19 pandemic.  In a statement released on April 29, Alaska Airlines announced its intention to use passenger jets for cargo-only operations.

Alaska Airlines is going to use six 737-900s for cargo-only flights. Photo: Getty Images

These select flights will be used to carry essential goods like medical supplies and PPE, along with mail and food. The statement said that by filling the aircraft with cargo, it would help make up for the loss in capacity following restrictions imposed by the coronavirus crisis.

Alaska Airlines will use six Boeing 737s for cargo

When speaking about Alaska Airlines plan to use the passenger cabin for cargo, managing director of Alaska Air Cargo Torque Zubeck said:

“We’re determined to help protect the resiliency of our nation’s supply chain by connecting critical cargo to the communities we serve during this public health crisis.”

“Our teams have been working tirelessly since March to identify the safest and most effective processes to increase our cargo capacity as quickly as possible.”

In addition to the three Boeing 737 cargo freighters that Alaska Airlines operate, they will designate six Boeing 737-900 aircraft for cargo-only duty. By utilizing the overhead bins, closets, and space on and under the seats to the existing cargo hold, the plane will be able to carry up to 30,000 pounds of freight.

40 people have been working on the project since March

Determined to make the new cargo flights a success, Alaska Airlines has had a team of 40 people working on the project since March. The team’s job has been to test load aircraft utilizing all available space while also ensuring that goods are stowed securely and will not move about during the flight. The team also had to make sure that the aircraft could be converted back to passenger-use in a quick fashion once the airline chooses to do so.

Forty people have been working on the 737-900 cargo-adaptation project. Photo: Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines senior engineer, Anthony Johnson explained that the overhead bins are already designed for storage and are very durable. However, other parts of the aircraft are not, with leather seats needing a protective cover and life vests having to be removed from under the seats.

Two flight attendants will be on each flight

Despite only now carrying cargo, the aircraft’s two pilots will be joined by two flight attendants.  Unlike dedicated freighters that have automatic fire suppression systems, passenger jets do not. This is why flight attendants will be seated in the main cabin as a precaution.

Two flight attendants will be on each flight in case of fire. Photo: Alaska Airlines

With many remote parts of the Alaskan state depending on flights to bring in supplies, Alaska Airlines is an expert when it comes to cargo. Below are some facts you may not have known:

  • Alaska Airlines has three dedicated Boeing 737-700 cargo aircraft
  • Alaska Airlines flies over 200 million pounds of cargo a year
  • Alaska Airlines flies over 30 million pounds of seafood per year
  • Of the 19 destinations, Alaska Airlines serves in Alaska only three have road connections

Once approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Alaska Airlines’ new cargo-only passenger jets will begin flying throughout the United States sometime this month.

Source : Simple Flying More   

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United Airlines Further Reduces Summer International Schedule

Earlier today, United Airlines shared additional route cuts for the summer. The air carrier’s schedule shows that the…

United Airlines Further Reduces Summer International Schedule

Earlier today, United Airlines shared additional route cuts for the summer. The air carrier’s schedule shows that the airline will drop a further 20 routes on top of those that were announced over the previous few weeks. Many seasonal routes to Europe will not continue until at least the end of October. United Airlines is already operating a shortened schedule through May and June.

United Airlines will cut some of its usual routes to Europe, South America, and over the Pacific for summer. Photo: Getty Images

20 routes chopped from the summer schedule

United Airlines has dropped 20 additional routes from its usual summer schedule owing to the coronavirus. At the moment, the airline is operating a drastically reduced route with no likelihood of things improving enough in the next few months to support select routes. United has eradicated the majority of its seasonal routes right through October. However, it will phase in a select few at the start of September.

United will remove some seasonal routes to nine countries until 23rd October 2020. Countries with affected destinations are as follows:

  • Australia
  • Brazil
  • Germany
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Netherlands
  • Switzerland
  • United Kingdom.

However, some routes to these countries will be stopped for a shorter period. For example, flight UA900 and UA930 between San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and London Heathrow (LHR) will be suspended until 23rd October. However, two flights will operate to LHR from Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) and three from Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) after 7th September 2020.

Some destinations will go ahead from select US airports. Photo: Great Circle Mapper

United adds to weeks of route cuts

Today’s announcement is just one in a string of route cuts that the airline has had to make on its summer schedule. On 24th April, it announced 12 route cuts to destinations in Europe and South America. These included a flight to Arturo Merino Benítez Airport in Santiago, Chile (SCL) from George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Houston (IAH), and to Porto, Portugal (OPO), from Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR).

Earlier than that, on 20th April, Live and Lets Fly reported that the airline had cut five summer routes. The week before, it had cut four.

2 United Aircraft
United is operating just 10% of its regular schedule. Photo: Bill Abbott via Flickr

United is feeling out the market

In an earnings call for the first quarter of 2020, the airline made it clear that its load factor was not what it once was. President of United Airlines Scott Kirby said:

“Our schedule is down 90%. And we plan for it to stay at that level until we begin to see demand recover.”

In May, United will operate flights to just four destinations on the other side of the Atlantic from three American airports. These routes are as follows:

  • Chicago – London
  • New York – Amsterdam
  • New York – Frankfurt
  • New York – London
  • New York – Tel Aviv
  • Washington Dulles – Frankfurt.

Making schedule cuts early ensures that United is not out of pocket when it comes to canceling routes and issuing refunds. However, making route cuts is not the only way that the airline could save funds.

UA Flight attendants
United will look to other areas of its business to save cash. Photo: United Airlines

Speaking in the earnings call, Scott Kirby said:

“Our responsibility to our employees, our customers, and our shareholders is to make sure that United is here for the long-haul and provides as many good jobs as possible to our people…we will make the hard decisions that are required to make sure United survives, is successful and has the [best] jobs possible for our people.”

It seems that for now, these are the last of United’s route cuts. We contacted the airline to see if it would be making further adjustments to its summer schedule, but it was unavailable to comment at the time of publication.

What’s your take on this story? Let us know in the comments. 

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