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A New Airline Wants to Fly You to Asia for Up To 20% Less

Planning to launch by the end of 2022, Northern Pacific Airways says they can embrace the low-cost carrier mentality to take flyers to Asia via Anchorage for less than the major airlines.
The COVID-19 pandemic has rapidly changed the aviation space both within the United States and around the world. But in crisis comes opportunity – and an Alaska-based airline thinks the current environment gives space for a new carrier to offer discounted flights from the U.S. to Asia via Anchorage Ted Stevens International Airport (ANC).


With their first Boeing 757 aircraft painted in a black-and-white livery, Northern Pacific Airways is preparing to launch by the end of 2022, offering flights from across the country to the Pacific Rim for up to 20% less than the major trans-Pacific carriers.


Model Based on Icelandair Model, Using Alaska as a Hub

The idea to launch an international low-cost carrier using Anchorage as a hub was partially inspired by Icelandair, which uses their headquarters city of Reykjavik to connect travelers to Europe. For airline chief executive Rob McKinney, the contraction caused by the COVID-19 pandemic provided the perfect opportunity to launch the new carrier.


“If you scroll back to 2019, there were no gates or slots to be had,” McKinney said in an interview with FlyerTalk. “To shoehorn something like this in the existing infrastructure of the world of aviation would have been incredibly difficult, at best. So, because of all the contraction, that’s opened this opportunity to get a foothold at these major airports where they wouldn’t have given us the time of day.”


Photo: Joe Cortez for FlyerTalk


Working with domestic and international regulators, Northern Pacific is targeting five U.S. cities for their planned launch before the end of 2022: Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York, Orlando and San Francisco. Those travelers would connect through Anchorage onward to one of four target cities in Asia: Nagoya, Osaka and Tokyo in Japan, or Seoul, South Korea.


When the airline starts operations, flyers will have three cabin options to choose from: First class, premium economy, and main cabin economy. However, the carrier won’t offer lie-flat options in the front of the cabin, or in-flight entertainment screens on seatbacks. Like other low-cost carriers, flyers will be tasked to make their own comforts, including entertainment with personal devices.

Proposed First Class and Economy seats aboard Northern Pacific Airways. Photo: Joe Cortez for FlyerTalk.

This doesn’t mean they will be entirely without comforts for the trip. The airline has partnered with Pepsico to provide snacks and soft drinks, while alcoholic beverages will be provided by Brown-Forman, owners of Jack Daniels, Woodford Reserve and Finlandia.


Flying Boeing 757 a Practical Choice, Opening to Further Growth

The choice to use used Boeing 757 aircraft was more of convenience than anything else. According to McKinney, the aircraft were available and could fly to all their target destinations as a proven fleet workhorse. Moving forward the company is having conversations with both Airbus and Boeing for next-generation narrowbody aircraft with longer range, including the Airbus A320neo and Boeing 737 MAX.


Photo: Joe Cortez for FlyerTalk


Although flyers will be connecting in Alaska, McKinney says it won’t create extra issues for flyers. Instead, he touts that clearing customs will be a better experience with shorter lines, offering time for a stopover in Anchorage or connecting back home.


“We think that we’re going to be a better value,” said McKinney. “You’ll get to Asia with about the same trip time flying direct, because you’ll be able to clear customs in Anchorage in a shorter time than going through LA or San Francisco. We think the opportunity to spend an extra day in Alaska is something that might have been on a bucket list but would have never gone to Alaska on my own. And our dedication to customer service will be second to none.”


The actual launch date is subject to government approval and other regulatory requirements. While Northern Pacific hopes to get off the ground by the third quarter of 2022, their target is to host their first international flight by the end of the year.


Photo: Joe Cortez for FlyerTalk

AADFW February 2, 2022

So does no IFE also mean no in-flight wifi? If so, that's a dealbreaker for me. Otherwise this is an awesome concept. 

Gizzabreak February 2, 2022

Consider New York - Mumbai ... via Alaska! Between 3.5 to 4.0 hours additional (still air) flying time in a high fuel burn, vintage aircraft, for a scenic fuel diversion via Alaska. Hardly in the spirit of todays 'save the planet' high efficiency airlines and equipment. 

BC Shelby February 1, 2022

Yet another post auto rejected. I sent a comment to the parent company about this.

A Lyford February 1, 2022

I'm looking forward to visiting Japan now that I have an option to break up a (discount) flight with a visit to the heart of Alaska.

atourgates February 1, 2022

Since the article doesn't really address it, flight time from, say, ANC to NRT should be just under 7-hours. 

LAX -> ANC for example is a 5:45 direct flight.  

So, you'd be looking at just-under 13 hours in a plane, with a layover in the middle, to fly from LAX to NRT with this airline, compared to just under 12-hours direct from LAX.  

Realistically, with say a 1.5 hr layover, the entire trip would take a little under 15 hours (though, I've been booked on a 30-minute layover on Iceland before, but that won't be possible with clearing customs at least inbound I imagine).  

EWR -> ANC is a 7:40 direct flight.  EWR -> NRT is a 13:40 flight.   So again, a little more than an hour of additional flight time + however long your connection is. 

I will say that in anything but a lie-flat, I actually prefer breaking up long-hauls of more than about 8-hours.  I'd honestly rather fly Iceland Air in economy from the West Coast to Europe, than a traditional carrier where I'm stuck in an economy seat for ~10-hours.  

Which is all to say that if they provide a good experience, I'd absolutely give this a shot if  I didn't have the option of a lie-flat.