As other air carriers grapple with the rocky terrain of recession by cutting routes, Switzerland’s Edelweiss Air, like the mountain flower that gives it its name, is blooming in these harsh times, and has announced plans to introduce a direct Zurich-Whitehorse flight next spring. “We think we will have success with this business,” says Andreas Hobrack, sales manager at Edelweiss, which, assuming it receives the approval of Canadian authorities, will dispatch a 285-capacity Airbus A330-200 to the Yukon capital (and then on to Anchorage) once a week during the 2011 summer season.
The new flight exploits a fascination among German-speaking Europeans with Canada’s north, say Yukon tourism operators. Whitehorse is already serviced by a direct flight from Frankfurt through Germany’s no-frills Condor air carrier, while in May the Hanover Adventure Zoo unveiled Yukon Bay, an attraction featuring faux northern landscapes, polar bears and snowy owls. “I have become convinced that, if you’re born in Germany, you grow up with Robert Service and Jack London,” says Frank Turner, whose Muktuk Adventures offers dogsledding-themed experiences to visitors from around the world—many of them from Germany and Switzerland. “Without them,” he says, “we wouldn’t be viable.”