Northern Pacific Airways, the Alaska-based offshoot of a charter and regional carrier that hopes to become the 'Icelandair of the Pacific,' has taken steps closer to making its planned 2022 debut a reality.
The new airline, part of the same company as local carrier Ravn, has acquired a fleet of six 757s, now being serviced and painted, and has locked in gate slots at Anchorage for its planned flights that will link Asian and U.S. cities, with a Rekyjavik-style transfer in Anchorage. Passengers could either make a fast transfer or stop over for an Alaska break.
While Anchorage may not be the draw that Iceland is, Northern Pacific's founders think they have another ace in the hole. Besides planning to offer low fares on their economical 757s, they're selling the idea that passengers arriving from (initially) Japan and Korea would clear U.S. Customs at low-pressure anchorage, and then arriving as domestic passengers at U.S. cities in California, New York, Texas, Florida and Nevada, where lines are often much longer and slower.
Northern Pacific says it's in the right place geographically as well; CEO Rob McKinney says that Anchorage “falls within about a hundred miles of almost any routing between most cities in Asia and most cities in North America,” he says. “As you fly between those cities, even direct, they go right above Anchorage anyway. So, we’re not taking anything away.”