Airline Seeking to Begin Service Between Alaska and Siberia

Associated Press

Alaska Airlines announced Tuesday that it has asked the Transportation Department for permission to begin twice-weekly service between Alaska and Siberia in the summer of 1989.

The proposed 265-mile flight across the Bering Sea would connect Nome, Alaska, with Provideniya, a city of about 4,500 people in the Soviet Union on the southeastern tip of the Chukchi Peninsula.

Bruce Kennedy, chairman and chief executive of Alaska Airlines, said the service, if approved by the appropriate U.S. and Soviet authorities, would reunite the indigenous native peoples of Siberia and Alaska.

Unique Tourist Opportunity

Kennedy said the service also would provide a unique tourist opportunity for travelers interested in the Arctic and Soviet Far East.

Alaska Airlines spokesman Lou Cancelmi said the service would be offered only during summer and that the 45-minute flight is planned as a day trip, with passengers returning sometime after the plane refueled.

Alaska Airlines offered charter service to Khabarovsk, Soviet Union, in the summers of 1970, '71 and '72, Cancelmi said. This would be the Seattle-based airline's first regular service to the Soviet Union.

"This application is a first step," he said. "Next there are a number of technical hurdles to overcome, such as the length of the runway, its composition, what kind of fueling services are there, ground transportation.

"We expect this would be the kind of flight people would add on to their Arctic tours. They might find that for an extra amount of dollars they could continue on from Nome and spend a day in Siberia," Cancelmi said.

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