American startup Northern Pacific Airways seeks to operate the US-Mexico service

American startup Northern Pacific Airways seeks to operate the US-Mexico service later this year and has filed an application before the US Department of Transportation (DOT) for an exemption and certificate of public convenience and necessity. While the carrier is well-known for its plans to launch transpacific operations between the United States and Asia via a stopover in Anchorage, it is now eyeing flights to Mexico. Let’s delve further to know more about Northern Pacific’s new plans.

Scheduled service between the US and Mexico

On August 3, Anchorage-based Northern Pacific Airways applied for permission to operate scheduled foreign transportation of passengers and cargo between the US and Mexico. In the application, the carrier has specified its intention to serve the US-Mexico route using its Boeing 757 aircraft later in 2022. By obtaining the blanket US-Mexico exemption/certificate authority, Northern Pacific seeks to engage in scheduled transportation of passengers, property, and mail between destinations in two respective countries.

Alaskan startup Northern Pacific Airways has announced to launch its operations from November this year using wet-leased aircraft initially and subsequently its B757-200s. The original business plan is to be the Icelandair of the Pacific-building Anchorage into a hub connecting Asia and North America. While the carrier has only five months left to carry out its plan on time, it has run into some regulatory hurdles in Asia, which is set to push back the timeline. To keep the momentum, they have to commence the scheduled service; Northern Pacific has shifted to Mexico plans as it believes Mexico from Ontario will be a faster process to kickstart the operation.

No change in original business plans

The CEO of Northern Pacific Airways, Rob McKinney, has commented on the original business plan of the carrier, saying that the latest development hasn’t changed anything on the plan except timing. He further said that regulatory hurdles in Asia have to do with the inability of the airline to apply to Asian countries until the granting of permission by the US Federal Aviation Administration. As a part of transpacific operations, the airline is eyeing destinations of Tokyo, Seoul, Nagoya, and Osaka in Japan and Korea, both of which are Open Skies partners of the US.

The carrier cannot commence service on ETOPS certification until it operates aircraft for commercial purposes. While it sorts out the regulatory setbacks for Asian operations on one side, the nascent airline seeks to be on track with the operational timeline by crisscrossing the skies a little closer to home.

In addition to holding Air Operator’s Certificate, Anchorage-headquartered Northern Pacific Airways has also obtained a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity for Interstate Air Transportation resulting from a November 2 regulatory filing with the US DOT. Per the airline CEO, the carrier is only adding operations specifications for Boeing 757s and international flying, which is slated to be completed in October.

Although Northern Pacific has unveiled its blanket request in the DOT filing for Mexico operations, it is still unclear where the airline will fly exactly in Mexico. Will it be a point-to-point flight on the US-Mexico route, or will the carrier initiate a more ambitious move with a Mexico-Anchorage-Asian destination flight?

Northern pacific B757

The fleet of Northern Pacific Airways

In its initial application, Northern Pacific outlined its plan to begin operations using wet-leased aircraft from a certified US air carrier before subsequently moving to own crews and Boeing 757 operations. According to the reports, the startup has received four former American Airlines B747-200s, and these flying birds are in the re-certification phase for ETOPS operations. Moreover, the carrier has already agreed with United Airlines by signing a letter of intent (LOI) for its eight B757-200s.

Provisions under US-Mexico Air Transport Agreement

The carrier having the exemption/certificate of public convenience and necessity has the authority to exercise its flexibility and breadth to the full extent provided in the US-Mexico Air Transport Agreement, which allows

  • Scheduled foreign transportation of passengers and cargo from any US point/s, via an intermediate point/s, to Mexico destination/s, and beyond
  • Passenger and cargo flights originating from Dallas/Fort Worth and San Antonio to Mexico City, Toluca, and Acapulco, and beyond to destinations in Panama and beyond
  • Passenger and cargo flights originate from America’s New York, Washington, Baltimore, Los Angeles, and Houston to Mexico’s Toluca and Mexico City and beyond Central and/or South American point/s.
  • Cargo flights from any US point/s, through a stopping point/s, to points in Mexico and beyond
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