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Alaska-Kamchatka Flights to Be Restored

The Kamchatka region is known for its remote location and thrusting mountain ranges.

Direct flights between Alaska and the Kamchatka Peninsula are scheduled to resume in July after a break of five years —but the cost of the ticket will be similar to making the trip via Moscow.

Yakutia Airlines will start the Anchorage-Petropavlovsk flights in July, and a roundtrip ticket will cost $1,750, about the same as people currently have to pay to travel to Kamchatka through Moscow, Alaska's Sun Star weekly reported Wednesday.

But the direct flight —which is aimed at researchers, adventurers, businesspeople and Russian expatriates living in Alaska — will save more than a day of travel time, said the newspaper, which is a publication of the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

"We are really excited about this," Dr. Pavel Izbekov, a research associate at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute, told the newspaper. "This will make our lives a lot easier."

The flights will be seasonal, running once a week each way from July 12 to Sept. 13.

The last regularly scheduled flights across the Bering Straits ended in 2006 with the bankruptcy of the airline, Mavial Magadan Air. Vladivostok Air offered a charter flight until 2008.

Sakha-based Yakutia Airlines flies a fleet of 27 planes, including the Boeing 757, Boeing 737, Tu-154, An-140-100 and An-24RV, according to the airline's website. It flies to about 40 destinations in Russia and several Aisian and European countries.

The airline made headlines last year when it denied reports that one of itscaptains and flight attendants had been pulled off a Magadan-Moscow flight for smoking marijuana before takeoff.

Thetwo crew members were suspended fromthe Oct. 21 flight because ofhigh blood pressure, thecarrier said ina statement.

But Alexander Bugakov ofthe Federal Air Transportation Agency, who first reported theincident two weeks after it occurred, said the airline'sexplanation was only technically correct.

Thecrew members were diagnosed with "high blood pressure" before theflight, while subsequent medical testing showed it was caused bydrug use, Bugakov toldRossiiskaya Gazeta.

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