Alaska Airlines today
reaffirmed its commitment to serving the cargo and passenger needs of the
state of Alaska today by inking a $15 million contract to retrofit five of
its 737-400 aircraft to carry cargo and passengers. “We’ve been looking for a replacement for our 737-200s for some time now,”
said George Bagley, Alaska’s executive vice president of operations.
“Retrofitting our existing, newer 737-400s makes sense from a cost
standpoint and will actually increase our freight and passenger capacity
Four of the carrier’s 737-400s will be converted to a fixed 70
passenger/four pallet configuration. One aircraft will be retrofitted to
full cargo configuration. Once completed, the retrofitted aircraft will
replace the airline’s retiring 737-200 fleet—long the workhorse of the
carrier’s unique passenger and cargo operations to rural communities in
Alaska. In addition, the airline is currently weighing several options to
replace the capacity of the five 737-400s that will be converted.
The conversions of the 737-400s will result in an upgrade of service, as
the converted aircraft will carry more passengers and cargo. Bagley noted
that the 737-400s are half the age of the carrier’s 737-200s, thus less
costly to maintain. Additionally the -400s consume about 30 percent less
fuel and already are equipped with Alaska’s state-of-the-art RNP flight
guidance technology, which allows pilots to precisely guide aircraft
during periods of low visibility.
The retrofitting work, to begin in April 2005 for completion in early
2007, will be coordinated by InterContinental Aircraft Services (ICAS) of
Taiwan for a team including Flight Structures Inc., Marysville,
Washington, a unit of B/E Aerospace, Inc., and the Boeing Company. Flight
Structures will do the engineering work. Boeing will provide
post-conversion engineering support.