WASHINGTON -- The Transportation Department is hoping it can help
boost international air service to Alaska.
Not long ago, Alaska was a popular refueling point for aircraft
on international flights, so much so that the airport in Anchorage
used to boast of the number of foreign flags flown outside the
terminal, representative of the various carriers that landed there.
But the development of longer-range aircraft has made the stops
less necessary, as has the opening of Russian air space, which
shortened many northerly routes.
The DOT has taken regulatory actions in recent years to
encourage air service to the geographically isolated state. But
that has not been enough, so now the DOT is planning additional
steps:In future bilateral aviation negotiations, the U.S. will
propose letting each country exceed restrictions on the number of
airlines and frequencies if the additions are for service via
Alaska.The DOT will give foreign carriers with U.S. route rights
additional authority to serve any point in Alaska.The DOT is considering a plan -- pending public comment -- to
invite foreign carriers to apply for the right to serve additional
U.S. points on an extrabilateral basis if those flights also serve
Pointedly, airlines of the U.K., a country for which the DOT is
in no mood to do favors these days, would be excluded from the
latter two initiatives. Open-skies talks between the two countries
have stalled, although an informal meeting is planned for this