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Pacific Northwest gets London boost with new Delta, Virgin Atlantic flights between Portland and Seattle

The entirely of the US Pacific Northwest will be easier to reach from London as Delta Air Lines announced a new seasonal nonstop service between Portland, Oregon and London-Heathrow. The current daily Delta service from Seattle to London-Heathrow will transition to a Virgin Atlantic flight, featuring the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, adding 50 seats. Delta and Virgin have had a joint venture since 2014 and this marks the first Pacific Northwest-based flight for the Richard Branson-founded airline.

Though seemingly 'ho-hum' to the rest of the world, the new Delta Portland service is a big deal and most welcome for business and those looking to visit The Rose City. Travel to and from Portland and London requires at least one stop and the nonstop flight, which will operate four days a week starting May 26, 2017, provides greater access to the region.

“We are excited to have this service,” said Courtney Ries, marketing director of Travel Portland. “The UK is our number one European visitation market in Portland and this enhances our great international portfolio of nonstop flights into PDX (Portland’s airport designation). We look forward to welcoming more visitors from the UK as this service takes flight.”

Portland currently has nonstop service to and from Europe via Reykjavik, Frankfurt and Amsterdam. It also has a flight to Tokyo, though that Delta service is under scrutiny and could be jettisoned, according to reports.

The addition of the high-profile flight could be yet another existential threat to Alaska Airlines as the drive for market share out west continues. Portland is a main hub for Alaska and both have been engaged in a battle for Alaska’s hometown of Seattle with Delta and Alaska progressively (and aggressively) adding service in each others’ main markets. Delta is the largest global carrier in both Seattle and Portland and has more than tripled its flights at the former’s hub.

Alaska recently acquired Virgin America and currently runs service direct between Portland and San Francisco on both carriers. Delta, at present, does not have nonstop service between the two cities but does have multiple daily flights between Portland and both Seattle and Los Angeles.

The new flight’s timing appears to be good for the state of Oregon as well. Recently, Travel Oregon indicated that tourism spending in the state rose to more than $10.6bn with 12 per cent of that tally coming from global markets.

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