The launch plans for Northern Pacific Airways went from weird to weirder.

The basics of Northern Pacific Airways

The concept of Northern Pacific was revealed in the summer of 2021. The basics of the company are listed here.

  • The people behind this airline are the same people behind Ravn, a regional airline in Alaska
  • Northern Pacific plans to use Anchorage as a hub to connect various points in the United States with various points in Asia; think of it like the Pacific equivalent of Icelandair
  • Northern Pacific plans to use Boeing 757s for this service, many of which have already been acquired
  • Northern Pacific plans to launch operations in 2022

This is a very odd business model. The fixed cost structure is great, but these 757s have high operating costs, and economy airfare between the United States and Asia is already extremely low.

It doesn't seem like enough reason to start an airline for people who want to have a stop in Alaska when traveling between the lower 48 and Asia.

Northern Pacific plans to operate Boeing 757s

Northern Pacific Airways now plans wet lease launch

Northern Pacific has new plans for its launch according to a filing with the DOT. The airline will use its own Boeing 757s after it starts service via a wet lease agreement with a US air carrier.

This is when an airline lease an aircraft and crew, meaning it would be another operator performing the flight on behalf of Northern Pacific.

Northern Pacific has its own Boeing 757s, why would it lease planes from other airlines?

  • It’s my understanding that Northern Pacific wasn’t planning on getting ETOPS certification for its Boeing 757s, since this wouldn’t have been needed given all the diversion points between Alaska and most of Asia (ETOPS certification is needed when flying over large bodies of water with no diversion points)
  • However, with Russian airspace now being closed to US airlines, Northern Pacific would need ETOPS certification, which is quite a process
  • So for the time being Northern Pacific plans to lease planes to launch operations; if this were to happen, presumably the lease would be with a US charter operator, like Omni Air

It's a head-scratcher for me. The economics of Northern Pacific seem questionable to me, and that's not even considering that a wet lease agreement would increase Northern Pacific's costs. It would likely be a larger jet, and possibly longer routes for the purpose of avoiding Russia, as well as Japan's continued travel restrictions.

Northern Pacific now plans to lease planes to launch operations

Bottom line

Northern Pacific plans to launch operations with wet leased aircraft. Because of the challenges associated with Russian airspace being closed to US airlines, Northern Pacific will need to get certification for its Boeing 757s to cross the Pacific.

I have more questions about Northern Pacific's business model after the Russian airspace situation and the plans to wet lease planes.

What do you think about the Northern Pacific updates?