Fairbanks seeks funds to entice Germans

Posted: Sunday, December 30, 2001

FAIRBANKS - Fairbanks International Airport officials are asking the Fairbanks North Star Borough to pledge $50,000 to $250,000 to help lure Condor German Airlines back to Fairbanks.

The airline began service between Fairbanks and Frankfurt, Germany, last year on a trial basis.

"We made it through the inaugural season. Fairbanks is now on the map," marketing director Dave Carlstrom, who has been negotiating with Condor, told the borough economic development commission on Thursday.

The problem, however, is that not enough Europeans are coming to Fairbanks to support the flight and Condor needs more Alaskans to travel to Europe.

To entice the airline, Carlstrom wants the Borough Assembly to underwrite seats on Condor flights in case not enough locals purchase tickets. He appeared before the economic development panel to ask that it endorse a resolution urging the Assembly to act.

The cost of round-trip fares from Fairbanks to Frankfurt range from about $600 to about $1,400.

Five tourism-related businesses have pledged $50,000 each to guarantee the service and are giving $10,000 up front, with the money going into an escrow account. Carlstrom needs five more participants or the borough to take on a majority share.

Such guarantees are standard for towns of Fairbanks' size in order to attract airlines such as Condor, Carlstrom said. He called the risk-sharing agreement an "internal political necessity."

"Local sponsorship assures Condor we don't take them for granted," Carlstrom said.

The commission agreed that it wanted to support Condor, but it did not decide how and how much. It will address the issue again on Jan. 10.

Assembly member Bonnie Williams, who sits on the commission, doesn't support the borough being one of Condor's backers.

"The borough doesn't belong in risk guarantees," Williams said.

Other commission members agreed with Williams. No one on the commission voiced support for the borough being one of Condor's major backers.

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