- Alaska Airlines and the Port of Portland today inaugurated new nonstop service between Portland, Ore., and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Washington. D.C. Elected officials from Washington and Oregon joined in a patriotic send-off for passengers onboard Flight 764, which included six Oregon World War II veterans, many of whom were traveling to the nation's capital for the first time.
"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 more than seven years and we're delighted to celebrate this day with six men who sacrificed so much for our country," said Joe Sprague, Alaska Airlines' vice president of marketing.
The veterans are traveling as guests of Alaska Airlines and will spend three days in Washington, D.C. The trip is being organized by Honor Flight of Oregon, a nonprofit group dedicated to taking Oregon's veterans to the nation's capital to see the memorials built in their honor.
"It's an honor to be able to take this trip," said World War II veteran Frank L. Beckwith, who served in the U.S. Navy from 1943 to 1946. "Freedom came at a price. Many men gave their lives for the freedom I have and seeing these memorials will be a way to honor their sacrifice."
Thanks in part to statements of support for the route by the congressional delegations from Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Idaho and Montana, as well as the Port of Portland, Alaska Airlines secured one of four new flights into Reagan National Airport. In addition, more than 10,000 letters from Alaska Air Group employees and Oregon residents were submitted to the Department of Transportation in favor of the route.
"I was proud to lend my support to this flight and I applaud the hard work and cooperation between the Port of Portland and Alaska Airlines that made it possible," said U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore. "This is a great day for our community and another signal of the growing strength and importance of our region both nationally and internationally."
Blumenauer and Oregon's six other members of Congress strongly supported Alaska Airlines' application for Portland-Reagan service.
"This nonstop flight to D.C. represents economic opportunity for Portland and Southwest Washington and is a boost for business and tourism," said Sen. Maria Cantwell D-Wash., and chair of the U.S. Senate subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety and Security. "That's why I helped to write the provision in the FAA reauthorization bill that created new flights from Western cities to our nation's capital. This flight will help Portland-area businesses reach their customers more quickly and it makes this region a more attractive place for businesses to locate and create jobs."
No other carrier currently provides nonstop service to Reagan National from Portland International Airport. Alaska Airlines operates three other daily nonstop flights to Reagan National: two from Seattle and one from Los Angeles.
"I was honored to fight for and help secure this new flight that will give folks in Southwest Washington a direct link to our nation's capital," said U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash. "Our region's residents and economy will benefit from Alaska's new nonstop flight to Washington, D.C., and I'm proud to join some of our brave veterans, my northwest colleagues and Alaska Airlines in marking this special occasion."
"We are thrilled with today's launch, as helping establish this Portland-Washington National route has been our highest domestic air service priority," said Bill Wyatt, Port of Portland executive director. "We applaud Alaska Airlines, our congressional delegation and our community for their combined efforts that made this route a reality."
Summary of new Portland, Ore.-Reagan National flights:
Times based on local time zones
The flights are being operated with Boeing 737-800 aircraft, accommodating 16 passengers in first class and 141 in the main cabin.