Swiss airline Edelweiss Air says it wants to start flying to Yukon next summer, meaning potential competition for another European airline that has just cut back its own flights to the territory.
Edelweiss Air says plans to add a new route from Zurich to Whitehorse and on to Anchorage, Alaska, as early as next May.
Chief commercial officer Peter Spring said Edelweiss started new routes to Canada this past summer, offering flights from Zurich to Calgary and Vancouver.
Spring said those new flights were a success and the airline is now setting its sights north.
"We have decided to enhance our offer to Canada and to Alaska. That means we are flying twice a week to Vancouver and Calgary and once per week to Whitehorse and Anchorage from May 2011 onwards," Spring told CBC News on Friday.
'There is a market'
The airline is working on obtaining the necessary approvals from Canadian authorities, Spring said. If all goes according to plan, he said Edelweiss will fly an Airbus with 285 seats for 14 weeks next summer.
"We have been approached also from tour operators here in Switzerland looking for a flight, direct flight from Switzerland to Yukon and to Alaska, and we are sure that there is a market," Spring said.
"We are convinced that we can get traffic all over Europe."
The move by Edelweiss Air comes shortly after Yukon tourism officials were informed that German-based Condor Airlines will cut in half the number of flights it offers between Frankfurt, Whitehorse and Alaska, starting next summer.
Rod Taylor, president of the Tourism Industry Association of Yukon, said he is cautiously optimistic about the potential arrival of Edelweiss Air — and hopefully more European tourists — into the Yukon's airspace.
"If what we're hearing is true, and if there are going to be some direct flights from Switzerland, that would be fantastic — particularly, of course, on the face of the fact that we've lost one of the Condor flights," Taylor said.
"All things being equal, this would be terrific news and we'll cross our fingers that it's all going to happen."
Spring said Edelweiss Air has yet to make contact with Yukon government officials and tourism operators. He said the airline plans to send its representatives to the territory and to Alaska later this month.