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New airline plans on Alaska pivot for Asia connections


A new trans-Pacific low-cost airline is planning to serve cities in Asia and the U.S., using Anchorage, Alaska as a pivot in much the same way Icelandic uses its home at Reykjavik as a pivot between Europe and North America, but some observers believe the resemblance isn't deep enough to pay off.

Northern Pacific Airways, the new carrier, is owned by Ravn Alaska, a regional airline that has partnered in the past with Alaska Airlines to serve remote destinations with Dash-8 turboprops. The new airline will start with a fleet of six 757-200s, retired last year from American Airlines. The first will be delivered immediately.

The line says its initial service plan will include flights from Anchorage to Seoul and Tokyo in Japan, and to San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New York and Orlando in the U.S. Like Icelandair, it will offer a program of free stopovers at its home base.

Ravn, and Northern Pacific, are owned by new investors who bought Ravn out of pandemic-induced bankruptcy last fall. They are taking advantage of a buyer's market for used planes, many of which were phased out of other airline fleets over the past year.

But unlike Icelandair, which serves dozens of European cities and seasonally over a dozen in the U.S., there may not be enough business to support a new line whose Asian destinations are already well-served from numbers of U.S. cities, unless fares are very low. As well, winter tourism in Iceland by Europeans is a much bigger business than winter tourism in Alaska. But time will tell.

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