The owner of Float Alaska, the parent company of regional airline
Ravn Alaska, is planning to launch a new full-service carrier connecting
Asia with the continental US, via Anchorage, late 3Q 2022.
Geographically, the area constitutes 49 States (including Alaska,
excluding Hawaii) located on the continent of North America, and the
District of Columbia.
CEO Rob McKinney envisions that the new airline, called Northern
Pacific Airways, will evolve into a sort of Icelandair of the Pacific,
with travellers taking advantage of the option of a free stopover in
Anchorage to tour Alaska, in some cases facilitated by Ravn's regional
"We're real big fans of what Icelandair has
accomplished, and our offering is going to be fairly similar to what
they do," said McKinney.
But replicating the Icelandair one-stop, US-to-Europe model over the
longer distances of the Pacific Ocean won't be easy, analysts say.
Bob Mann, owner of the consulting firm R.W. Mann & Co., said that
in its early days, a key element of Icelandair's business was its
facilitation of the Iceland fishing industry. Only later did the
US-to-Europe model with stopovers evolve.
"I don't quite see the same underlying business proposition," Mann
said of Northern Pacific. "Not to say they couldn't get there if they
operate reliably for a period of years. But that may be a period of
years where they are printing a lot of red ink."
McKinney enters into the Northern Pacific venture with nearly two
decades of experience as a top executive at various air service
operators, albeit regional airlines or in the private flying sectors. He
formed Float Alaska in order to acquire Ravn from bankruptcy in July
2020. Ravn currently serves 13 Alaskan destinations.
Northern Pacific, he said, plans to begin operations with service
from Seoul, South Korea, and the Japanese airports of Osaka, Nagoya and
Tokyo Narita to Anchorage, with quick connections to San Francisco,
Orlando, Las Vegas, New York JFK and Ontario, California.
Operations will launch with a fleet of Boeing single-aisle 757
aircraft. Northern Pacific announced agreements to acquire six 757s in
September and McKinney says he has tentative deals for at least six more
aircraft. The relatively cheap acquisition cost of 757s compared to
newer planes is a key factor in Northern Pacific's plan to connect the
US and Asia for less than most competitors.
Northern Pacific aircraft, McKinney said, will have premium and coach
cabins, and the carrier also plans to build a lounge at Anchorage
In the beginning, the airline will cater primarily to
customers who will connect immediately from their inbound Anchorage
flight to their outbound flight to Asia or the US mainland.
McKinney touted the stopover as an opportunity for flyers to stretch
their legs while also making easier entry to the US than they would at
immigration stations in more crowded airports. He also said that
Anchorage sits within 100 miles of the optimum flight plan for most of
the routes Northern Pacific will be flying.
Developing the market for multiday Alaska stopovers, McKinney said,
will take some time. Northern Pacific will facilitate excursions for
customers who do make such stopovers both through Ravn flights and
through a network of partnerships with tour operators and activity
Ravn, which will share an air certificate with Northern Pacific, is already in the major GDSs.
Source: Travel Weekly