Alaska Air to use passenger jets to fly essential cargo

Alaska Air to use passenger jets to fly essential cargo
Alaska Air Cargo tests loading freight into the passenger cabin of an Alaska Airlines 737-900 in Seattle. Alaska will be utilizing passenger jets as freighter only aircraft to maximize critical cargo shipments of essential goods. (Hand-out/Alaska Air Cargo,Alaska Airlines)

SEATTLE — Alaska Air Cargo will fly passenger jets as cargo-only flights to carry essential goods like mail, medical equipment, e-commerce packages and food during the coronavirus pandemic.

Many passenger planes aren't being used right now because of reduced flights.

"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," said Torque Zubeck, managing director of Alaska Air Cargo.

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In addition to three Boeing 737-700 freighters, six Boeing 737-900 aircraft will also be used for cargo. Boxes, mail and other items will be placed on and under seats and in overhead bins and closets.

Filling the passenger area provides 13,500 more pounds of cargo than what a passenger-only flight could carry. Each flight will carry up to 30,000 pounds.

If approved by the FAA, the passenger-only aircraft would begin flying throughout the United States in May.