Sarah Palin intervenes on behalf of Japan Airlines

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, fresh from her 15 minutes of election fame, is using her pull to help save some sectors of her state’s travel industry.

Specifically, Palin recently intervened on behalf of Japan Airlines, asking the US Dept. of Homeland Security to resume customs checks on winter flights from Japan to Fairbanks. Customs had said it did not have enough staff in Fairbanks to maintain a winter presence, which led DHS to deny landing rights to roughly 20 JAL flights.

Logistically, it’s a pain for US Customs and Border Protection to meet these flights; customs officers have to be flown from Anchorage to Fairbanks each time a JAL flight lands.

But these flights mean big business for Fairbanks’ economy: $4 million, according to some estimates.

After Palin intervened, DHS decided to reverse its decision.

“We recognized right away the importance,” Patricia Eckert, a trade specialist with the governor’s office, tells the Associated Press. “There is tremendous economic impact at a time of year when it’s most valued.”