Northern Pacific Airways hasn’t taken flight yet, but we now know what the cabins of its Boeing 757 fleet will look like.
Last week the Anchorage, Alaska-based airline shared the first two photos of a completed cabin on one of its 757s. If you’ve been an American Airlines frequent flyer for the past few years, it should look very familiar.
That’s because Northern Pacific’s initial batch of Boeings formerly flew for American, and before that, for US Airways. Northern Pacific is using the same Zodiac-brand seats that came with the aircraft, though it’s enlisting design studio ACLA studio to refurbish and reupholster the seats for a fresh look.
Want more airline-specific news? Sign up for TPG’s free biweekly aviation newsletter.
It’s unclear exactly how many passengers Northern Pacific’s fleet will seat. When the plane operated for American, it sat 188 passengers, with just three rows in first class. The photo Northern Pacific shared shows that there will be at least four rows of first class recliner seats. It’s also unclear what Northern Pacific’s intentions are for its other 757s — particularly the ones that Northern Pacific plans to acquire that once flew in premium-heavy configurations for United Airlines.
However, we can’t say for sure if these American-sourced planes will be the ones that Northern Pacific uses for its launch. That’s because a number of things have changed since Northern Pacific’s flashy January unveiling event in a California airplane hangar.
The month after the event, Russia invaded Ukraine, and the ensuing tensions between Russia and the West had far-reaching implications for the airline industry, especially Northern Pacific. Because Russian airspace closed to American carriers, Northern Pacific had to shift its strategy.
Northern Pacific Airways revealed its livery on the outfit’s first Boeing 757 aircraft in California in January. ETHAN KLAPPER/THE POINTS GUY
Airline CEO Rob McKinney told TPG in January that the airline would not need a special certification called ETOPS — extended operations — for its fleet of 757s. That certification ensures that suitable diversion airports are available for twin-engine aircraft when they are flying over remote parts of the world, like the ocean. Using Russian airspace to fly between Alaska and the Far East would have kept Northern Pacific’s 757s close enough to those airports.
However, with Russian airspace now off-limits, Northern Pacific turned to Plan B: “wet leasing.”
More: Why new airline Northern Pacific is launching with 27-year-old planes
In May, Northern Pacific revealed it will “wet lease” four 757s from Icelandair; this means that both the aircraft and its crew will be from the Icelandic flag carrier. That will allow Northern Pacific to launch sooner — albeit not with the full experience.
Then, last month, Northern Pacific filed with the U.S. Department of Transportation for authorization to fly to Mexico — something that was not in the airline’s original launch plan. This is because Japanese and Korean authorities had delayed approval for the airline to serve those countries due to the Russian airspace issue. The department swiftly approved the request.
Since ETOPS is not required for those flights, it’s likely that you will find these former American Airlines 757s on those routes. The airline’s chairman, Josh Jones, said on Aug. 9 that the carrier plans to start selling tickets soon, and it has a targeted launch date of Dec. 15.
It will be a busy few months for Northern Pacific, to say the least. However, with a cabin fitted on at least one of the airline’s 757s, the airline is one step closer to welcoming passengers.
Featured photo by Northern Pacific Airways.