Canada 3000 Eyes Vancouver-Alaska Routing

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- This state's continuing search for an air carrier to provide year-round service between here and Japan unearthed a new possibility -- Canada 3000, operator of scheduled charters between Europe and Canada and the U.S. and Canada.

The company intends to start twice-weekly service from Vancouver, British Columbia, to Anchorage in May and expressed an interest in studying the feasibility of extending the flights across the Pacific to Tokyo.

Alaska earlier offered a $1 million incentive to any carrier that would initiate 12-month service to Japan, one of the state's biggest potential markets.

The state would make the money available in the form of landing fee reductions, tax incentives, guaranteed passenger lift or however the airline involved wished it.

Gov. Tony Knowles spoke with officials of Northwest Airlines in Minneapolis, which used to stop in Anchorage en route to the Orient but, with the advent of longer-range jets, now overflies it.

Sources said that Northwest was greatly interested in the idea and was making an internal study of the potential for the suggested route.

Next month, a management team from the carrier ANA will visit Alaska as guests of the state to gauge for themselves the likelihood of being able to market the state successfully in the winter.

"We aren't offering an incentive for airlines to come in the summer only," Tom Garrett, director of the Alaska Division of Tourism, said. "Anybody can make money in Alaska in the peak season.

"We definitely want a year-round service commitment," he added.

Canada 3000, the late entrant in the transpacific stakes, flies from about 20 European gateways to half-a-dozen cities in Canada and from multiple gateways in Canada to warm weather destinations in California, Hawaii, Florida and elsewhere.

The company operates a fleet of Airbus 320s and Boeing 757s and said it intended to buy two Airbus 330s -- the kind of longer-range equipment that would be needed for a long haul leg like Anchorage-Tokyo.

Garrett said that he expected that Alaska would have its longed-for Tokyo link in time for the summer of 1998.

About 20,000 Japanese a year visit Alaska, most of them in the winter, according to Garrett, who said that studies showed that Japanese skiers rated Alaska's ski areas among the 10 best in the world.

He said that there also was strong potential for commercial travel between Anchorage and Tokyo, given that seafood industry executives and others with interests on both sides of the Pacific currently have to make the trip by way of Vancouver or Seattle, adding six hours or more to the flight in each direction.

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