Alaska Air Cargo’s managing director Adam Drouhard has pledged that the carrier will not add any fuel surcharges.
Other airlines have imposed increases of up 30%, he said.
But he acknowledged: “The past few months have been turbulent in some parts of our operation. Our valued customers have weathered last-minute schedule changes and flight cancellations – challenges created by staffing shortages throughout our operations.
“We are committed to getting back on track, and we are already seeing a more reliable flight schedule take shape. We expect our schedules to fully stabilise in June.”
Alaska Air Cargo will double its freighter fleet capacity over the next year and will have five all-cargo aircraft in service by the end of 2023, said Drouhard.
The carrier will add two 737-800 aircraft to its fleet, converted from existing passenger aircraft. The pair will together offer more main deck and belly-load space – and higher fuel efficiency – than its three existing 737-700 freighters.
The 737-800F has 11 full main deck positions, compared with eight for the -700 while belly capacity is 44sq m compared with just 17.5sq m. Payload is 50,000 lbs against 40,000 lbs in the 737-700.
Drouhard, who joined Alaska Air a year ago, said: “The timing couldn’t be better. Fleet expansion positions our growing cargo business to meet increased demand that we see from industry and consumers.”
He added: “Our investment in the innovation and growth of Alaska Air Cargo is taking off, positioning us to meet the increased demand we see from our customers and across the industry.”
Cargo opportunities will also be enhanced by over 30 new 737-9 MAX passenger aircraft due to join the fleet this year. Their higher-efficiency engines would also allow a heavier payload on many cross-country and Pacific routes, Drouhard explained.
Alaska Air’s iCargo cargo-management system will be launched in early 2023, and will streamline sales, inventory and operations, as well as providing new account-management tools for customers.
Regional vice president, Marilyn Romano, commented: “Alaskans have always relied on Alaska Air Cargo to provide time-sensitive services to their communities.
“Whether it is vaccines, medicine, household supplies or fresh food, our freighters keep rural Alaska supplied and connected. The additional freighter capacity also allows us to quickly move seafood and other commodities from Alaska to points throughout the US.”
Alaska Air operates over 30 flights connecting Anchorage to 10 destinations across the rest of the US (the ‘Lower 48’). Recent additions include Salt Lake City from June 18, along with summer service to Minneapolis and a year-round service to Las Vegas. A summer route to Los Angeles is due to begin in July.