One last 'Milk Run,' Alaska Airlines says goodbye to the "Combi"

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) Wednesday marked the end of an era for Alaska Airlines, as the last combined cargo-passenger, or " Combi" plane made its final "Milk Run" to Seattle.

The last 737-400 cargo-passenger Combi departed Anchorage for Seattle on Thursday.

Alaska Airlines Flight 66 departed Anchorage with stops in Cordova, Yakutat and Juneau before its final arrival in Seattle.

Alaska Airlines spokesperson Tim Thompson says the cargo-passenger model of Boeing 737-400 aircraft has been in service for the company for decades.

Marilyn Romano, Alaska regional Vice President of Alaska Airlines, says she remembers her first experience in stepping into a "combi."

"I remember getting on it, and I heard about the combis, and then I got on it, and I realized, 'Wait! Half the plane is missing!,'" Romano said.

Retiring the 737-400 "combi" aircraft from the fleet allows Alaska Airlines to replace the dual-purpose jets with planes capable of full passenger loads and planes that serve solely as cargo freighters, according to Thompson.

The new 737-700 freighters will also increase the company's cargo capacity by 15 to 20 percent, the Spokesman says, and Alaska Airlines will also retire its one 737-400 full freighter aircraft as part of the transition.

The fleet of "combi's" will likely be sold and could still fly elsewhere, Thompson says.

"Aircraft can fly, really forever, with maintenance," Thompson theorizes, and he added that the replacements will have better fuel efficiency, lower maintenance costs and reduced operating costs.

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