Northern Pacific Airways (Anchorage Ted Stevens) has shelved its relatively short-lived plans to fly between the United States and Mexico as it pivots back to its namesake region. The start-up says it is on track to commence revenue flights in 1H 2023 but has refocused on the original plan of flying between US cities and North Asian ports via Anchorage.

Speaking after one of Northern Pacific's four B757-200s touched down in Anchorage last week, CEO Rob McKinney said that he aimed to be flying from San Francisco, Ontario International, Orlando International, and New York to Anchorage and onto South Korea and Japan by the Northern Hemisphere spring.

"We are expecting to put that the route application in December," McKinney told aviation reporter Fangzhong Guo in an interview. "That takes anywhere between 30 and 45 days. Then we can take a look at when we can start selling tickets."

With Russian airspace closed, the airline now needs ETOPS certification to operate any flights to Asia. Lacking ETOPS, Northern Pacific is talking to Icelandair (FI, Reykjavik Keflavik) about wet-leasing some of their aircraft to operate the initial flights."Our preference would be a partnership with Icelandair," said McKinney.

Assisting the pivot back to the North Pacific is an emerging joint venture with Marianas Pacific Airlines/Northern Marianas Airways that would see Northern Pacific take an ownership stake and provide aircraft to operate flights between Saipan and each of Brisbane International, Sydney Kingsford Smith, and Manila Ninoy Aquino International. In a second stage, pending ETOPS certification, flights would link Saipan with Japan and South Korea. McKinney says the Saipan joint venture is a better fit for his airline than the proposed Mexico operations, although he notes the application to fly south of the border will stay in place.

"If Saipan comes to fruition, it’ll probably be in late March or early April (2023)," said McKinney. "We couldn’t make those actual applications until we have the airplanes on our op specs, so we are probably a couple of months out from that."

Separately, McKinney said his fleet of retrofitted B757-200s have a good ten years worth of flying left in them. He wants to considerably scale up the fleet from the current four over the next half a decade but says he's "not delusional" that he can do this while sticking to B757s.

"At some, we’ll have to change over, most likely to Airbus," McKinney said