Alaska in Brief

Alaska Airlines’ flying salmon is about to be extinct

By: - February 28, 2023 2:30 pm

Salmon Thirty Salmon is seen in southern California on Dec. 27, 2022. (Photo by Glenn Beltz/Flickr/CC BY 2.0)

Alaska Airlines will paint over “Salmon Thirty Salmon,” the custom Boeing 737 that looks like an 129-foot-long Alaska king salmon, the company confirmed Monday.

Tim Thompson, director of public relations and community marketing for the airline, confirmed that the plane will be painted over after a final ceremonial flight on April 17. 

That will be Flight 65, the daily Southeast Alaska “milk run” that travels from Seattle to Anchorage with stops in Ketchikan, Petersburg, Wrangell and Juneau along the way. 

The salmon-painted plane has been an iconic part of the Alaska Airlines fleet since 2005, when the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute — a public corporation — funded the repainting of an aircraft as part of a promotional campaign for Alaska salmon.

The aircraft was repainted with a new salmon design six years later, with the airline fronting the cost. 

Photojournalist Brandon Farris of Airways Magazine first reported that Salmon Thirty Salmon would be erased, citing a post on an internal company website that said the “world’s largest flying fish” will be missed. The yet-to-be-announced replacement will be a new way “to honor the culture and history of our namesake state and our connection to communities across the West Coast.”

Fans of the current design have launched an online petition in an attempt to convince the airline to keep it.

“Alaska Airlines has a new direction for the Salmon Thirty Salmon,” said Jeremy Woodrow, director of the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, by email. “ASMI helped fund the original livery but the re-paints since then have all been covered by Alaska Air. The plane still carries the Alaska Seafood logo and messaging.” 

The airplane’s name comes from a 1987 incident when an Alaska Airlines jet was struck by a salmon dropped by a bald eagle in Juneau.

“We appreciate the love everyone has had for the Salmon-Thirty-Salmon since the first one arrived in 2005,” Thompson said by email. “Salmon is important to the people of Alaska and down the west coast. We look forward to unveiling an incredible new design in the coming months that celebrates both the culture and people of Alaska and our connection to the places we fly.”


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James Brooks
James Brooks

James Brooks is a longtime Alaska reporter, having previously worked at the Anchorage Daily News, Juneau Empire, Kodiak Mirror and Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. A graduate of Virginia Tech, he is married to Caitlyn Ellis, owns a house in Juneau and has a small sled dog named Barley. He can be contacted at [email protected]