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Soviets Grant Japan Air Lines Trans-Siberian Route To Europe

February 11, 1985

MOSCOW (AP) _ Soviet officials have granted Japan Air Lines approval to fly a non-stop, trans-Siberian route between Japan and Europe starting next year, a Moscow- based JAL official said today.

Takesaburo Yamamoto, JAL regional manager in Moscow, said the agreement allows the flights to begin in April 1986 and that JAL probably would start them in June of next year. The agreement allows up to four flights a week, he said.

It is believed to be the first time the Soviets have allowed a foreign airline to fly a trans-Siberian route without stopping in the Soviet Union.

An official of the protocol department of the Soviet Ministry of Civil Aviation, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed that JAL has been granted permission to fly over Siberia for a two-year period beginning April 1, 1986.

Yamamoto said the western terminus of the route would be either London or Paris. He said JAL has not yet decided how many times a week it will offer the non-stop flights.

JAL currently makes three flights a week between Japan and Europe - once weekly between Tokyo and Frankfurt, Paris and London - but stops in Moscow are required. Yamamoto said those flights will be continued when the new non-stop route is added.

Yamamoto said the new direct route from Japan to Europe will be two to three hours shorter than the average 15-hour trip via Moscow.

A European airline official in Moscow, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said other companies are also interested in non-stop, trans-Siberian routes, but he declined to speculate on whether the JAL agreement might pave the way for other similar accords.

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