Alaska Air Cargo Delivers Season’s First Copper River Salmon to Seattle

Alaska Air Cargo today delivered the season's first shipment of Copper River salmon to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. The arrival of Copper River salmon marks the start of the summer salmon...

Alaska Air Cargo today delivered the season’s first shipment of Copper River salmon to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. The arrival of Copper River salmon marks the start of the summer salmon season and is anticipated by seafood lovers throughout the Pacific Northwest and beyond.

Alaska Air Cargo’s fish-filled freighter arrived early this morning with Copper River king and sockeye salmon from three seafood processors: Ocean Beauty Seafoods, Trident Seafoods and Copper River Seafoods. At least four more Alaska Airlines flights today will transport salmon from Cordova, Alaska, to Seattle and Anchorage, Alaska, and across the United States.

Alaska Airlines plays a significant role in supporting the Alaska seafood industry, which is recognized worldwide for its sustainable fishing practices. Last year, the carrier flew more than 25 million pounds of fresh Alaska seafood to the Lower 48 states and beyond, including nearly 700,000 pounds of Copper River salmon.

"Alaska Airlines flies more Copper River salmon throughout the season than any other airline," said Joe Sprague, Alaska’s vice president of marketing. "With enhanced food quality procedures and additional flights to support the Alaska seafood industry, we are going the extra mile to deliver fresh seafood throughout the country."

Copper Chef Cook-off

Following the arrival of the first fish, top Seattle chefs will compete for the best salmon recipe in Alaska Air Cargo’s first "Copper Chef Cook-off." Executive chefs from Seastar Restaurant, Waterfront Seafood Grill and Anthony’s Restaurant will have 30 minutes to prepare and serve the first catch of the season to a panel of judges, including Jay Buhner, Seattle Mariners Hall of Famer; Mike Fourtner, deckhand on the F/V Time Bandit, as featured on Discovery Channel’s "Deadliest Catch;" Paul Wulff, Washington State University football coach; and Alaska Airlines President Brad Tilden.

"You’re more apt to find me fishing the waters of Bristol Bay for salmon than playing food critic, but I’m honored to put 21 years of fishing expertise to good use for a Copper Chef Cook-off," said Fourtner.

The airline will use its Twitter account, @AlaskaAir, to announce the winning Copper River salmon recipe. The three recipes prepared for the Copper Chef Cook-off are available to download at Fish lovers are encouraged to share their own favorite salmon recipes on Twitter, using the hashtag #CRsalmon.

Among the onlookers awaiting the freighter’s arrival were 10 Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan MVP Gold members invited to sample the season’s first Copper River salmon. These frequent fliers donated 50,000 Mileage Plan miles each to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Alaska, Montana, Northern Idaho and Washington to attend the event. Alaska Airlines is matching the donated miles for a combined donation of 1 million miles.

Enhanced seafood quality training program

Copper River salmon shipped on Alaska Air Cargo this season will arrive as fresh as possible to grocery stores and restaurants across the nation thanks in part to a training program required of all airline employees who handle perishables. Alaska Air Cargo employees are required to adhere to strict seafood quality standards and pass an annual food quality course.

"The first Copper River salmon of the year is a celebrated rite of passage, and Alaska Airlines plays a critical role in delivering Alaska seafood across the Lower 48," said Beth Poole, Copper River Marketing Association’s executive director. "The airline’s ‘cool chain’ program helps ensure prized Copper River salmon stays as fresh as possible."

Seafood processors and shippers follow these cool chain standards to provide a temperature-controlled environment for proper food handling. 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 stores and restaurants.

Note to media: High-resolution photographs of the season’s first Copper River salmon and Alaska Air Cargo’s "Copper Chef Cook-off" will be posted in the airline’s online newsroom image gallery at by 11 a.m. Pacific time, May 14, 2010.

Together with sister carrier Horizon Air, Alaska Airlines transports more than 150 million pounds of cargo annually, including seafood, mail and freight, and operates the most extensive air cargo operation on the U.S. West Coast of any passenger airline.

Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air, subsidiaries of Alaska Air Group , together serve more than 90 cities through an expansive network in Alaska, the Lower 48, Hawaii, Canada and Mexico. For reservations, visit or For more news and information, visit the Alaska Airlines/Horizon Air Newsroom at

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SOURCE: Alaska Airlines

CONTACT: Bobbie Egan of Alaska Airlines, +1-206-392-5134; or Beth Poole
of Copper River Salmon Association, +1-907-424-3459