Japan flights back after Palin intervenes

Posted: Thursday, December 18, 2008

FAIRBANKS - Eighteen winter flights from Japan to Fairbanks are on schedule again after Gov. Sarah Palin intervened with federal customs authorities.

Staffing shortfalls at Customs and Border Protection led to a denial of landing rights for Japan Airlines. Customs officers have to be flown from Anchorage to Fairbanks to meet each JAL flight.

The flights are worth an estimated $4 million to the Fairbanks economy.

Palin asked the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for reconsideration and federal officials reversed the decision.

The winter charter program bringing in Japanese tourists has boasted growth since its inaugural year in 2004, when Japan Airlines made three flights to Fairbanks.

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