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United Airlines returns to Fairbanks after decades-long absence

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United will operate seasonal service between Denver and Fairbanks, Alaska, the world's largest airline announced Tuesday. The flight will be operated on a seasonal basis, from June 7 through August 27. United Flight #1480 will depart Denver at 7:25PM daily, arriving Fairbanks at 10:56PM. United Flight #1720 will depart Fairbanks at 11:55PM and arrive Denver at 7:15AM the following morning. The flights will be operated by Continental Airlines 737-800 aircraft equipped with First Class and Economy seating. United joins Frontier Airlines serving Fairbanks nonstop from Denver, which has operated nonstop on the route, also on a seasonal basis, since 2010.

United previously began service to Fairbanks in the 1980s during a period of heavy oil production on Alaska's North Slope. Service was discontinued the following decade in response to slowing demand. Fairbanks, also known as Alaska's Golden Heart City, has a year-round population of approximately 31,000, with just under 100,000 residents in the greater metro area, making it the second largest city in the state. The city is popular during the summer tourist season as the terminus of the Alaska Highway, and close proximity to Denali National Park, Gates of the Arctic National Park, and Canada's Kluane National Park.

United discontinued service to Alaska in 2008, but the state returned to the airline's route map after it merged with Continental Airlines, which has served Anchorage since the 1990s. United's 2011 summer schedule offers service to Anchorage from Seattle/Tacoma, San Francisco, Denver, Houston, and Chicago.

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