Alaska Journal | Alaska-based startup plans for 48 Asian and lower destinations
A new Alaska-based carrier that plans to offer daily passenger flights between Asia and the Lower 48 purchased its first Boeing 757-200 on September 30.
The acquisition is a key milestone for Northern Pacific Airways as it begins to build its fleet, said managing director Rob McKinney.
The company plans to begin service next year from Anchorage, with year-round trips to destinations such as Tokyo, Seoul, Orlando and Los Angeles.
“From Anchorage, you could go to Tokyo for the weekend,” McKinney said.
Northern Pacific plans to purchase a dozen Boeing 757-200s, which can carry more than 200 passengers each, separated by a single aisle, McKinney said.
The business plan is modeled on the success of air cargo service at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, he said.
The airport has become the world’s fourth busiest airport for freight, with Anchorage typically being a stop for refueling and crew changes as jumbo jets jump between Asian cities and the Lower 48.
“We plan to replicate this model with passengers,” McKinney said.
It’s an ambitious plan for the start-up.
Northern Pacific is a sister brand of Ravn Alaska which now serves rural Alaska on turboprop aircraft typically seating up to 37 passengers.
The brands are owned by FLOAT Alaska. Leadership with FLOAT bought out the assets of the bankrupt RavnAir group last year, launching Ravn Alaska.
McKinney, an experienced pilot flying in Alaska, is also General Manager of Ravn Alaska and FLOAT Alaska.
Ravn Alaska has other future plans, including purchasing small electric hybrid planes in the future.
Northern Pacific recently announced that it has agreed to purchase the first of six Boeing 757-200s. The jets were taken out of service last year after flying for American Airlines, McKinney said.
The first jet, after the sale closes on September 30, will leave a storage yard in New Mexico next month, McKinney said.
It will benefit from several weeks of “intensive” maintenance through Certified Aviation Services, a company in San Bernardino, California. The jet will then be painted and will receive its North Pacific design, and will arrive in Alaska in December.
“We will continue the process one after the other,” he said.
Northern Pacific is working with a broker to buy the jets and engines, McKinney said.
The price of the first two jets will reach around $ 10 million each, on average, he said, and Northern Pacific is raising funds from private sources to cover the costs of its business plan.
“We have a reasonable target for capital spending and there is a lot of talent out there,” he said. “We bring in talents from all over the world who know how to do this type of operation.
About 15 full-time workers have been hired so far to help start the North Pacific, he said. That brings Ravn and Northern Pacific’s workforce to around 400. The number is expected to double once Northern Pacific is fully operational, he said.
The company hopes to receive approval from the Federal Aviation Administration after conducting tests in the spring. It hopes to be up and running by September, McKinney said.