For Oregonians traveling to the nation's capital for business or pleasure, life just got simpler and more convenient. Alaska Airlines was awarded a slot to provide direct, non-stop service between Portland and Reagan National Airport, just a short subway ride away from the White House, Smithsonian Institutions and the Capitol.
The direct flight has been a hard-fought goal for the Port of Portland, Oregon's congressional delegation and business leaders, as well as anybody who has been forced to fly to D.C. through Chicago, Denver, Minneapolis, Dallas or even Atlanta.
There is a direct flight between Portland and Dulles International, but it always seems like you land closer to Monticello than the Jefferson Memorial. Land at the wrong time of day and you can experience rings of endless traffic jams. The Metro is being extended to Dulles, but it will still seem like a long, 28-mile train ride into the center of the city.
Alaska Airlines, which was awarded the right in 2001 to fly between Seattle and Reagan National, is required to start its new non-stop service between Portland and Reagan National by September 8. The Oregonian speculated the service could start sooner.
Oregon Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley praised the decision by the federal Department of Transportation, saying it would promote economic growth in the state. Washington Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell agreed the direct flight would boost the business climate in Oregon and Southwest Washington. Murray also said it was a matter of respect.
Congress enacted legislation earlier this year to allow the Federal Aviation Administration to grant additional slots in competitive markets.
Reagan National Airport has been the popular choice when flying to D.C. for just about everyone in the country. Because of limited space, flights were restricted to destinations 1,250 miles or less from Reagan. West Coast lawmakers pressed hard for exceptions to the restriction.