Six members of the D.C. City Council and the mayors of Annapolis, Bowie and Chesapeake, Va., have accepted an airline's invitation for a free round trip to Germany to visit "military constituents" and help celebrate the airline's new European service.
World Airways is providing the four-day trip to the officials and to relatives of American military personnel who win seats on the its May 16 inaugural flight from Baltimore-Washington International Airport to Frankfurt in a contest. The airline will play for their round-trip flight, which normally costs $1,018, hotel accommodations, a tour of Frankfurt, and a banquet for servicemen and their relatives.
The city officials will be able to return later than the others on an airline DC10 without charge, the airline said.
World Vice President William Ziegler noted in a statement that the California-based airline has had close ties with the U.S. military for 30 years and wanted to demonstrate to servicemen in Germany that they are appreciated by people at home.
"It is only our elected officials, as representatives of the people, who can carry this message," he said. They will carry messages from relatives at home and efforts will be made to have the officials meet with area servicemen.
World Airways Washington spokeswoman Barbara Levering said that invitations had been sent to most of the area's elected officials.
Six of the D.C council's 13 members have requested seats, she said.
They are Nadine Winter, Frank Smith, Charlene Drew Jarvis, William Spaulding, H.R. Crawford and Wilhelmina Rolark. In addition, Annapolis Mayor Richard L. Hilman, Chesapeake Mayor Sidney M. Oman and Bowie Mayor Richard Logue have bookings, she said.
Rockville Mayor John Freeland, an Air Force colonel, will also go, but he said yesterday his city will pay to avoid questions of improper gratuities. Freeland said his main purpose is to present a reproduction of a Memorial Day mural in his City Hall to Rockville's German sister city, Pinneberg.
Smith said yesterday he was going in a ceremonial capacity and welcomed the new flight as a step to raise Washington's status as an international city and seek business for the new Convention Center.
"There's not a dime of public funds involved," Smith said.
Jarvis said she had reserved a seat, but would have to see if her duties allow her to get away.
Crawford declined to comment on the trip and the other council members could not be reached for comment.
Chesapeake Mayor Oman said he saw his trip as "kind of a good-will gesture from our community. This is the first free trip that I've had extended to me."