Two U.S. airlines – one small regional airline, and another long haul low cost carrier startup – have joined forces to launch a cryptocurrency that passengers will earn instead of frequent flyer miles.
Ravn Alaska serves small cities in Alaska from its base in Anchorage, flying Dash-8 turboprops. It filed bankruptcy during the pandemic, but is flying again and its passengers can earn miles with Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan.
Ravn, however, is also starting a new transpacific long haul airline called Northern Pacific Airways.
They plan to fly 10 Boeing 737s as a low cost carrier starting in summer 2022 with flights to Asia (e.g. Tokyo, Seoul) via Anchorage to mainland U.S. cities like Los Angeles, New York, Las Vegas and Orlando.
There’s going to be very little demand for connecting from major U.S. cities to Tokyo or Seoul, when passengers can already fly non-stop. Boeing 757s are cheap but narrowbody aircraft with a narrow fuselage is hardly ideal for long flights. And Anchorage itself is highly seasonal, and seeing vastly-increased competition in recent years. Plus long haul low cost carriers don’t have a strong track record of success.
So what do they have going for them? FlyCoin.
Ravn Alaska already participates in its sister company’s currency FlyCoin, a new currency that is exchangeable for free flights, crypto or U.S. dollars, and it will become the currency of Northern Pacific. FlyCoin,
- Doesn’t expire
- Doesn’t devalue (although exchange rates may vary…)
Ravn and Northern Pacific are trying to convince the Anchorage airport as well as local Anchorage businesses to accept FlyCoin.
To be clear, most of this seems speculative at this point. You don’t hold your FlyCoin in a digital wallet and as of now it appears all you can do with FlyCoin is “exchange them for a Ravn Alaska credit voucher.”
I haven’t found a digital wallet for it, one source currently lists a price of $0 while another claims a market cap of $223,000. So for now it appears that this is just a revenue-based frequent flyer program that calls itself crypto.
Imagine if all that SEC paperwork could have been avoided when American Airlines, Delta, and United raised billions in traditional debt backed by their frequent flyer programs.
AAdvantage and MileagePlus could’ve just called themselves crypto. Delta could have renamed itself the Atlanta Blockchain Company. What could possibly go wrong?