Each year, Alaska Air Cargo delivers shipments of Copper River salmon from Alaska to seafood processors in Seattle and restaurants across the United States. The business is worth an annual $20 million in direct economic benefits to the Alaskan economy, with a further $20 million in related economic activity.
By air-freighting the salmon south, Copper River salmon arrive as fresh as possible at grocery shops and restaurants across the nation, thanks in part to a cool-chain training programme completed by all Alaska Air employees who handle perishables. The goal is to keep seafood moving rapidly throughout its journey on Alaska Airlines and maintain a consistent temperature range from the time it leaves the water to when it arrives at shops and restaurants.
Alaska Airlines plays a significant role in supporting the Alaskan seafood industry, which is recognised worldwide for its sustainable fishing practices. Copper River salmon runs are carefully managed for long-term sustainability by the Alaskan Department of Fish and Game, which conducts weekly aerial surveys and monitors weirs at several points, estimating salmon stocks to ensure that an adequate number of fish migrate to spawning grounds to reproduce each year.
The carrier flew nearly 9,000 tonnes of fresh Alaskan seafood to the continental United States and beyond in 2012, including nearly 500,000 kilograms of Copper River salmon.