Link Between Russian Far East and Alaska Restored – NYTimes.com

intransit post Link Between Russian Far East and Alaska Restored   NYTimes.com

November 30, 2011, 11:45 am

Link Between Russian Far East and Alaska Restored

The Russian carrier Vladivostok Air plans to start flying between Siberia and the United States in July, the only direct service between the two regions.

The new route, Anchorage-Petropavlovsk, a four-hour flight across the Pacific, connects Alaska to an urban hub on the otherwise wild Kamchatka Peninsula. The carrier picks up where Alaska Airlines left off in the late 1990s, when it discontinued flights between Alaska and Russia’s Far East.

04INTRANSIT1 articleInline Link Between Russian Far East and Alaska Restored   NYTimes.comCathleen Calkins

Siberia has long been a popular destination for American hunters and fisherman, but not for mainstream tourists. That could be changing. Cities like Petropavlovsk, Kamchatka’s jumping-off point for outdoor adventurers, and Vladivostok, a coastal city with upscale accommodations and cultural attractions like museums and theaters (right, a church on Vladivostok’s waterfront), have made big efforts to encourage tourism. The Kamchatka Ecotourism Society delivers English-language trip assistance for hikers, skiers and sightseers, and the hilly city of Vladivostok has undergone years of rebuilding, replacing Soviet-era high-rises with luxury hotels and entertainment sites.

Mark Dudley, Vladivostok Air’s United States representative, likens the region to Alaska without a century or so of tourist development, adding, “now the great unknown is only four hours away.”

This would be a cool trip, especially given that Alaska was purchased from Russian back in the late 1800s.

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