Air Transport World

The back road to Europe; commuter level airlift promises revival of short-haul tourist traffic along the original island-hopping air route across the North Atlantic.

The back road to Europe

Last year more than 17.7 million tourists traveled by high flying jets between Europe and the United States. Only a small number of that flood of people saw much of the earth below while enroute along the 3,000-mile-plus jet track. Except for a few minutes after takeoff and just before landing, the outside view is usually shrouded in clouds, haze or darkness allowing precious little opportunity to flight-see beyond the jet wings.

However, just under all of this there is an offbeat scenic treasure that was enjoyed by nearly 100,000 "adventurous' travelers last year who took no-extra-charge stopover privileges offered by some airlines to "discover' the natural wonderlands of Greenland and Iceland.

Simon Poisson of Icelandair says world travelers are just beginning to learn of the travel pleasures now being offered in Viking land. His airline played host to more than 28,000 stopover guests last year "who found the price right and the tour exciting.' Icelandair expects a healthy gain this year as the season opens this month and extends through August 30. However, the "travel window' is opened longer in southern Iceland because of milder weather --September and October are also pleasant weather times.

Polsson told ATW that "thanks to the shorter takeoff and landing aircraft now available we are able to move passengers about Greenland and Iceland in jet level comfort to places where there are no roads or suitable boats. By air is truly the only way to go, see and enjoy the scenic treasures of our countries.'

Icelandair has designed no extra charge stopover packages for one to 11-day tours of either or both islands. Polsson said "We want people who are not in a hurry.'

Not long ago, de Havilland's P.R. Manager, Colin Fisher, invited ATW on a Dash 7 flight across the North Atlantic via Toronto, Labrador, Greenland, Iceland to London. …

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