FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Innkeepers here might want to take a few courses in conversational German before next summer.
The German airline Condor Flugdienst plans to begin seasonal Frankfurt-to-Fairbanks flights in May, bringing weekly waves of German tourists.
Condor will deliver approximately 135 German passengers to Fairbanks every Thursday starting May 25. The last flight of the season will be Sept. 27.
The 270-passenger Boeing 767-300ER will make one stop at Whitehorse. The airline will advertise both cities as vacation destinations. Half of the passengers are expected to remain in the Yukon.
''This is the first international passenger service to Fairbanks in over 20 years,'' said Don Weldon, former owner of VISTA Travel.
Condor is Germany's largest leisure-oriented airline and operates 46 aircraft to more than 70 locations. Lufthansa is a part owner of Condor and will offer connections from Frankfurt to other European destinations.
The airline's decision is expected to be a boon for Fairbanks International Airport as well as area hotels, car rental agencies and restaurants.
Andy Anger, Chena Hot Springs' European market director, said major German tour operators have agreed to book Fairbanks vacation packages.
Chena Hot Springs will house the tourists for two days. Tours also will feature trips to Chicken, the Denali area, the Yukon River and the North Slope.
While Condor hopes to fill the plane with tour bookings, independent travelers also are expected to take advantage of the Fairbanks flight.
Bernie Karl, owner of Chena Hot Springs Resort, said 40,000 German tourists come to Alaska each year but few make it to Fairbanks.
Condor primarily flies to sunnier locations, Anger said. The company began two roundtrip flights to Anchorage from Frankfurt this year. One is a nonstop flight and the other also stops at Whitehorse. Those are the company's only northern flights.
Deb Hickok, executive director of the Fairbanks Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the Interior tourism industry has a big job ahead of it.
''We have a lot of marketing to do to make sure seats are filled,'' she told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. Hickok estimates $100,000 will be needed to market Fairbanks to potential German tourists.
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