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Direct to Vancouver

Thorunn Howatt
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Jun 29/01) - A new Vancouver-Yellowknife direct route will mean the addition of an aircraft to Inuit-owned First Air's Yellowknife fleet.

First Air said it will be flying non-stop to Vancouver five days a week between Dec. 29 and April 7, 2002. The route, branded "the Aurora Express," targets the Asian market so flights are scheduled when the Northern Lights are most active.

A Yellowknife-to-Vancouver regular excursion fare, on a 115-seat B737, will cost $1,044 but First Air's marketing director, Tracy Beeman, said the route will be included in seat sales and fare promotions.

"We're starting off the program as a seasonal service," she said, adding the airline is studying existing staff requirements but no new hiring is expected.

The route's announcement comes only two months after Canadian North added a direct flight between Yellowknife and Calgary.

"I will support both routes as much as I can," said Kerry Yamkowy of Key West Travel. Yamkowy said he is confident the service will be beneficial to Yellowknife travel companies and tour operators.

"It's definitely a good thing for us," said Denie Olmstead who is operations manager at the Explorer Hotel.

He said the hotel accommodates many Japanese tourists.

"A good percentage of our clientele is coming from Vancouver," he said.