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First passenger jet configured for cargo unveiled in Alaska

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Alaska Airlines unveils the first passenger plane to be converted to a cargo jet, Monday, Oct. 2, 2017, in Anchorage, Alaska. The 737-700s will increase cargo capacity by 20 percent in Alaska, and spell the end of the airline’s unique combi planes, which are 737-400 planes configured to be half-passenger, half-cargo.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska >> The first-ever passenger plane to be converted for cargo use was unveiled today in Alaska.

The fleet of three 737-700s will be used mostly in the nation’s largest state that has few roads. The planes will deliver items such as seafood and groceries — and even live animals — to rural Alaska communities.

Alaska Airlines’ cargo director Jason Berry says it cost about $15 million to convert the airlines’ former passenger planes.

The cargo jets also spell an end for Alaska Airlines’ unique combi planes, 737-400s configured specifically for Alaska. The jets carry 72 passengers in the back of the plane, while cargo is loaded into the middle, between the cockpit and passenger cabin.

It was an efficient way to move people and goods to rural communities. The last combi flight is scheduled Oct. 18.

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