Travel plans to Asia saw a major decline during the pandemic, but Northern Pacific Airways, a new, low-cost airline, is looking to reinvigorate trips to the eastern continent. Rob McKinney, Northern Pacific Airways’ CEO, told Travel+Leisure that the airline plans to undercut current U.S.-to-Asia ticket prices, which average around $800, by 10 to 25 per cent, making trans-Pacific travel more affordable.
The company, which was founded in August 2021, has been buying older planes at low rates from American Airlines after the airline giant was forced to sell off some of its fleet due to the financial strain of COVID.
With a fleet of nine Boeing 757-200s—and plans to acquire three more before summer 2022—Northern Pacific Airways is positioned to become the first trans-Pacific airline offering discounted passenger service on long-haul flights between the U.S. and Asia.
To keep costs low and flight routes less competitive, Northern Pacific Airways will use Anchorage, Alaska as its layover hub, emulating Icelandair and its use of Reykjavik for layovers between North America and Europe. The company plans to offer flights from Las Vegas; San Francisco; New York City; Orlando; and Ontario, California, connecting through Anchorage and arriving in Seoul, South Korea, Tokyo, Osaka, or Nagoya, Japan, with sights set on future expansion.
The company’s Boeing 757s can accommodate up to 200 passengers, have a 20 per cent lower operating cost per mile than larger aircrafts, and have a flight range of 4,000 miles, meaning no extra layovers between Anchorage and its eastern Asia destinations.
Plus, the airline hopes to introduce a multi-day layover option in Anchorage, boosting tourism in Alaska and making exploration of the 49th State more accessible to travelers.
But before the first takeoff can happen, Northern Pacific Airways needs to get government approval on its northwest flight paths, routes typically used by cargo planes rather than commercial aircrafts.
The airline plans to have its first passenger flights operational by late summer 2022.