Alaska Airlines Wins Approval For Portland Washington, D.C., Service


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Alaska Airlines Wins Approval For Portland Washington, D.C., Service

By Eddy Metcalf

May 17, 2012 - Alaska Airlines will offer a daily nonstop flight between Portland, Ore., and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport by September 8, following U.S. Department of Transportation approval on Monday of the carrier's application to fly the new route. 

"Providing residents of the greater Portland area with convenient nonstop service to the closest airport to our nation's capital has been a priority for us for a long time and we're delighted this day has come," said Brad Tilden, Alaska Air Group's chief executive officer-elect. "We thank the DOT for their vote of confidence in Alaska Airlines." 

Tilden also credits the grassroots efforts of some 13,000 people who submitted letters to the Department of Transportation in support of the carrier's application. 

No other carrier currently provides nonstop service to Reagan National from Portland International Airport. Alaska Airlines' flights to National will significantly improve connecting service for passengers traveling from Eugene, Medford and Redmond Bend, Ore. With more than three decades of service to the Rose City, Alaska and its sister carrier, Horizon Air, operate more than 640 flights a week from their Portland hub more than any other carrier. Alaska Airlines currently operates three daily nonstop flights to Reagan National: two from Seattle and one from Los Angeles. 

"Oregon is one of the nation's most underserved regions for flight access to the East Coast, yet Washington, D.C., is one of Portland's top 10 destinations," said U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore. "The current flights can handle only a fraction of the demand from PDX to D.C., but with the approval of Alaska Airlines' route application, the opportunity for economic growth in Oregon and the greater Pacific Northwest increases. As Oregon continues to grow as a hub for technological innovation, and Washington, D.C., remains the center for tech policy, additional direct flights can only help to further cement Oregon's position as a leader in tech businesses." 

Wyden and Oregon's six other members of Congress strongly supported Alaska Airlines' application for Portland-Reagan service. Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire, and the congressional delegations from the states of Alaska and Washington also wrote letters urging the DOT to approve the airline's application. 

"It's great news for Oregonians and businesses to finally have a convenient nonstop flight to the nation's capital. I have fiercely championed this effort for many years," said U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore. "As the Pacific Northwest's home airline and with their strong Portland hub, Alaska Airlines is perfectly suited to serve this route and I applaud DOT for recognizing that fact." 


National is one of the few domestic commercial airports in the nation that requires airlines to receive DOT approval to add flights. Alaska applied for two of the four flight slots currently available for bidding: one from Portland and another from San Diego. "Getting additional airline slots in the FAA reauthorization bill in February was a huge victory, and today all that hard work by the Port of Portland and Alaska Airlines has paid off," said U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore. "In today's global economy, getting across the country quickly is an important tool for any business wanting to locate or expand in Oregon. Today's news is a win for Oregon businesses and Oregonians who want to experience our nation's capital." 

"This direct flight will support business growth and jobs in Southwest Washington and Oregon, and it will make the Pacific Northwest more accessible and attractive to East Coast businesses and tourists," said U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash. "That's one reason I fought hard in the FAA bill to increase western flights to Washington, D.C., and urged DOT to strongly consider Alaska Airlines' bid."

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