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Northern Pacific Airways gets the green light from FAA

Northern Pacific Airways Receives FAA Approval to Operate Flights

Rob McKinney, CEO of @NorthernPac “6:30pm tonight (Saturday) A call from the CMO manager of the FAA — passed every test. Passed and exceeded all expectations. Ravn Alaska as Northern Pacific Airways is authorized as a global airline flying large jets. So many Thx”

Imagine an airline that could potentially create hundreds of jobs and significantly boost tourism in Alaska. Enter Northern Pacific Airways, a new Anchorage-based airline that’s gearing up to make this vision a reality.

At the helm of this ambitious venture is CEO Rob McKinney. He’s the driving force behind FLOAT Alaska LLC, which owns Ravn Alaska, and he views Northern Pacific Airways as the next evolutionary step for the Ravn brand, especially after its emergence from bankruptcy in 2020. 

McKinney was an integral part of the team that acquired some of Ravn’s assets and successfully rebranded it as Ravn Alaska. 

Source: Northern Pacific Airways

As a new long-haul airline, Northern Pacific Airways first announced plans to offer flights between a range of points in the United States and select cities in East Asia. The airline plans to serve cities in the states of New York, Florida, California, and Nevada, with direct flights to cities in Japan and Korea through Anchorage over the Northern route.

Having obtained FAA approval for their operations, it now seems they’re ready to take off. But they won’t be taking off to Asia just yet. 

Anchorage-based Airline to Start Operations Soon: Where is Northern Pacific Airways really headed? 

First Flight Routes Announced: Los Angeles and Las Vegas

While they originally announced plans to launch flights to Asia, Northern Pacific Airways have decided to start their journey with flights between Los Angeles and Las Vegas as a proof of concept. Northern Pacific’s inaugural flights are expected to start on July 14. 

Reasons Behind Change of Plans for Northern Pacific Airways

Northern Pacific Airways says it wants to ensure it can deliver its customers the best possible service before expanding to international destinations. 

“By starting with this popular domestic route, we’re able to fine-tune our operations, provide exceptional customer service, and perfect our in-flight amenities,” the airline states on its current reservation page.

Northern Pacific Airways’ Unique Selling Points and Value Proposition

Just last June, Northern Pacific unveiled its first-class lounge in the North Terminal of Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.

McKinney anticipates the new airline will employ 250 locals, inject millions into Alaska’s tax coffers, and eventually contribute billions to the economy by extending the tourism season. 

“We believe we can make tourism in Alaska an all-year-round affair,” McKinney emphasized. “Think about the jobs that would create, not just seasonal ones, but lasting employment opportunities. It could be transformative for the state.” 

The airline aims to launch its much-anticipated trans-Pacific flights by spring 2024.

A New North American Route to Asia Inspired by the Icelandic Model

The business model for Northern Pacific hinges on Anchorage being a strategic halfway point between major cities in eastern Asia and the U.S. 

From early next year, McKinney revealed, Northern Pacific plans to offer flights from cities in Japan and Korea to Anchorage, and then onwards to destinations in the Lower 48. The stopover in Anchorage saves fuel and promises to make flights 20% cheaper than nonstop competitors. Plus, the travel time will be comparable due to the shorter customs clearance process in Anchorage compared to larger airports like Los Angeles or New York. 

McKinney cites Icelandair as a successful example of this concept. 

“Despite the option of nonstop transatlantic flights, Icelandair thrives with its stopover in Keflavík, Iceland,” he noted. “It’s proof that this model works.” 

McKinney also points out that with this strategy, Iceland managed to increase its tourism by 500%. He believes that even a double increase in Alaska’s current tourism could result in billions of dollars in added revenue. 

The Northern Pacific Airways Fleet

The airline has pegged 757-200 narrow-body aircraft for its operations. These aircraft are known for performance efficiency, range, and maintenance, promising 20% lower operating cost per passenger mile. 

Northern Pacific can deliver a one-stop ticket to Asia with a flight range of 4,000 miles (6,437.38 km). It comfortably accommodates up to 200 passengers.

The Roots of Northern Pacific Airways

Previously, RavnAir Group served as the most significant rural carrier in Alaska. The original company filed for bankruptcy in April 2020 following a 90% loss of revenue amid the pandemic-induced travel downturn. The company had also suffered a crash in Unalaska in 2019 which resulted in multiple injuries and one fatality. 

Who is behind Northern Pacific Airways? 

Rob McKinney

Rob McKinney is the CEO of FLOAT Alaska LLC, Northern Pacific Airways and Ravn Alaska. He’s a Learjet captain with over 30 years in the airline industry. His experience includes roles as VP and director of operations at Pacific Wings, COO at Mokulele Airlines, COO and CEO at SeaPort Airlines. He co-founded FLOAT Shuttle Inc. in 2018 and in 2020, led the acquisition of Ravn Air Group. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Technology from Purdue University and an MBA from Ellis College/NYIT. 

Tom Hallam

Tom Hallam is the COO of FLOAT Alaska LLC, overseeing subsidiaries like FlyCoin, Ravn Alaska, and Northern Pacific Airways. He retired from Delta Air Lines after being a USAF fighter pilot. He also worked as a Designated Inspector for the Ministry of Transport, Aruba, focusing on Aircraft Certifications. With 50 years in aviation, he developed Flight Training Programs, spoke at Aviation Forums, and has experience with the International Air Transport Association (IATA). He held management positions in Central Asia, including being the CEO of Somon Air LLC. 

Tom Hsieh

Tom Hsieh is the president of FLOAT Alaska LLC, which includes FlyCoin, Ravn Alaska, and Northern Pacific Airways. He started his career at EarthLink in the 90s and helped the company grow from a startup to a successful IPO on NASDAQ. Tom is a passionate entrepreneur and innovator, serving on several boards and spearheading initiatives for social change. He co-founded FLOAT Shuttle Inc. in 2018 and played a key role in acquiring Ravn Air Group in 2020. Tom has a Bachelor of Science in Physics and an Executive MBA. 

Tina Hanley

Tina Hanley is the Chief Commercial Officer for Northern Pacific Airways and Ravn Alaska. She started her career with United Airlines in Chicago and then went into hospitality with Hilton and Marriott. She returned to the airline industry in 2019 with Ravn Air Group, taking on sales, marketing, and scheduling roles. In 2021, she joined the newly-restructured Ravn Alaska and played a key role in its growth and the launch of Northern Pacific. 

Josh Jones

Josh Jones, the Chairperson of FLOAT Alaska LLC and its subsidiariesFlyCoin, Northern Pacific Airways, and Ravn Alaska, started his career in 1996. A business leader and visionary, he co-founded DreamHost, a web hosting provider and domain name registrar, as a college undergraduate. In 2014, he launched Bitcoin Builder, which significantly contributed to the success of digital currency. Jones serves on various boards and committees, including The Fund and HMC INQ, which support future entrepreneurs and startup companies. Jones earned a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Harvey Mudd College.

David Temple
VP Flight Operations-Boeing

David Temple is a seasoned aviation professional with 40 years of experience and 20,000 hours of flight time. He has worked across five continents, including stints in Bahrain, Malta, and various Asian destinations with Orient Thai. His qualifications include serving as Captain on Boeing 757 and 767, with Type Ratings in BAC111, SF340 and BE1900. His latest roles were with Comlux Aviation as Post-Holder Flight Operations and Captain for the B767 BBJ, and currently with Security Aviation and Katmai Air in Anchorage, Alaska. He also holds a Master’s in Business Administration. 

Steven Pruitt
VP Maintenance-Boeing

Steven Pruitt is an aviation maintenance expert with over 30 years of experience. His career began at US Airways in 1986, later moving to JetBlue, Virgin America, and Alaska Airlines. At Alaska Airlines, he supervised 100 employees and ensured the smooth operation of a station with 90 daily departures. He also managed the technical operations of multiple stations across the Southwest US and Mexico from 2012-2018. His expertise covers various aircraft, including Airbus A320, Boeing 737, 757 and 767, Douglas MD80, Fokker F100, and BAE 146. He holds a degree in aviation management from Northrop University.

Joel Rhodes
VP Quality–Boeing

Joel Rhodes was a Boeing Field Service Regional Manager in Doha, Qatar. His career at Boeing began in 1987 and has spanned numerous roles and locations, including Seoul, Korea; Taipei, Taiwan; and Everett in the US. His responsibilities ranged from managing Field Service teams and warranties to overseeing quality assurance in preflight and delivery. Joel holds a Bachelor of Science degree, an MBA, and FAA Airframe, Power Plant, and FCC licenses.

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