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There’s an airplane painted like a salmon, carrying 10,000 pounds of salmon, landing from the home of salmon. It’s just another Friday at the Seattle airport — actually, it’s Friday, May 18, when the airline brought in from Alaska the first run of Copper River Salmon. It’s a yearly ritual for aviation geeks in the area, and for seafood lovers. 

On Friday, Alaska Air Cargo delivered 32,000 pounds of Wild Copper River salmon to Seattle in the first shipment of the season, using several flights.  

Alaska Air Cargo transports more than 170 million pounds of cargo annually—including seafood, mail and freight. Every year, the airline partners with three of largest seafood processors in Alaska to bring the Copper River salmon to Seattle and Anchorage.

Alaska even made sure to send its Boeing 737 with a special salmon-themed livery, a 737-800 model which flies all over the company’s network but was sent on purpose to fly the Cordova to Seattle flight on Friday morning, carrying the fish in frozen packages in its belly holds.

To kick off Copper River salmon season, the airline flew three fish-filled flights on Boeing 737s to the Alaska Air Cargo warehouse at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) Friday. From there, the fish will be delivered to restaurants and grocery stores throughout the Pacific Northwest and across the US.

“Alaska Airlines plays a significant role in supporting the Alaska seafood industry, which is recognized worldwide for its sustainable fishing practices,” said Jason Berry, managing director at Alaska Air Cargo. “Our Cargo employees are working around the clock to ensure we deliver the first catch of the coveted wild Copper River salmon to market, often within 24 hours of being pulled from the water.”

In addition to delivering the first catch of the season, Alaska Airlines hosted the ninth annual Copper Chef Cook-off Friday at SEA. Three of Seattle’s top chefs competed for the best salmon recipe in the annual Copper Chef Cook-off featuring a 45-pound king salmon as catch of the day.

All images by Alaska Air.

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