In the late 1960s Willis [then-CEO of Alaska Airlines] made his boldest move yet; after three years of secret negotiations with officials of the Soviet Union, he won permission from the USSR to take tourist flights into Russia during the height of the Cold War. The State Dept. was aghast but couldn't block the plan because it would have offended the Russians needlessly. In 1970-71 Alaska took a dozen flights a year into Khabarovsk, where Intourist received the groups for tours to Leningrad after which Alaska flew them back on a route over the North Pole.
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