Oregon Delegation Announces Portland Wins a Flight Slot at Tokyo Airport

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, with Congresspeople Earl Blumenauer, Suzanne Bonamici, Peter DeFazio, Kurt Schrader and Greg Walden, today announced that, following their appeal to U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, the agency has selected Portland International Airport to receive one of 12 newly opened flight slots at Tokyo’s Haneda International Airport. 

“Portland direct flight to Tokyo has, for 35 years, helped build significant economic and cultural ties between Oregon and Japan,” Sen. Merkley said. “Being able to fly directly to the more modern, more convenient Haneda Airport in Tokyo will allow us to continue fostering and expanding those connections. That’s why I called Secretary Chao and made a personal appeal for this flight, and I am thrilled at the opportunity this creates for our farmers, businesses, and travelers.”

“I am thrilled that the Oregon delegation’s teamwork with the Port of Portland has produced this significant travel win of more air options between Oregon and Japan,” Sen. Wyden said. “Global travel is a must to continue growing jobs in Oregon’s global trade and tourism sectors.”

“This is a monumental step forward for the region and our international recognition,” Rep. Blumenauer said. “I am thrilled that this service will be offered in time for the Summer Olympics and look forward to this strengthening our connections with Japan and the rest of the world.”

“This new direct flight from the Portland Airport to Tokyo’s Haneda airport is a great opportunity for Oregon’s businesses and travelers,” Rep. Bonamici said. “Maintaining direct travel between Portland and Japan will encourage more tourism and trade, building on the strong relationship we already enjoy. It will benefit our communities on both sides of the Pacific Ocean.”

“I’m pleased with Secretary Chao’s decision to select Portland International Airport to receive one of these competitive slots,” said Rep. DeFazio, Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. “Direct air service between Portland and Tokyo is critical to the business and tourism industries of our region. Awarding this slot will continue Oregon’s burgeoning trans-Pacific relationship with Japan, providing direct access to markets, talent, and visitors that support good-paying jobs throughout the state. I will continue to support increased investments in Oregon’s airports as Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.”

“I’m very pleased to see USDOT recognize the value of this new flight path connecting Oregon to Japan,” Rep. Schrader said. “Oregon has so much to offer by way of tourism, business, and goods. Having a direct flight path will be a huge boost to our state and local economies.”

“For Oregon tourism, commerce, and businesses large and small, this is tremendous news. Connecting the preeminent airports in Oregon and Tokyo will unlock new economic and travel opportunities for Oregonians, and comes at an opportune time with the 2020 Olympics just on the horizon,” Rep. Walden said. “I am proud to have partnered alongside my Oregon colleagues in Congress in engaging with Secretary Chao and the entire Department of Transportation to secure this flight slot for PDX. I applaud the Trump Administration for recognizing the positive effect this connection will have, not only for our economy in the Pacific Northwest, but all across America.”

“We would like to thank the Oregon and Washington congressional delegations, state and local leaders, businesses and citizens with ties to Japan for their strong show of support for Delta’s bid,” said Curtis Robinhold, Port of Portland Executive Director. “Their backing played a key role in securing the Haneda route from PDX.” 

Delta currently operates a direct flight between the Portland airport and Narita Airport, which is located outside of Tokyo. This direct flight has existed for 35 years—first operated by Northwest Airlines, and now by Delta Airlines. 

As Japan prepares for the 2020 Olympic Games and for a changing air service market in Asia, it is making Haneda its gateway to Asia. Unlike the Narita Airport, the Haneda Airport is located in Tokyo.

The entire delegation signed a letter to Secretary Chao making the case for Portland to receive one of the flight slots. In addition, Merkley called the secretary to make a personal appeal.

The U.S. Department of Transportation on Thursday released the allocation of the 12 new flight slots for daily service between the United States and Tokyo International Airport: Two slots are allocated to American Airlines for service from Dallas/Fort Worth and Los Angeles; one slot is allocated to Hawaiian Airlines for service from Honolulu; four slots are allocated to United Airlines for service from Newark, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C.; five slots are allocated to Delta Air Lines for service from Seattle, Detroit, Atlanta, Honolulu, and Portland.

Maintaining a direct flight to Tokyo is critical for Oregon’s business and tourism industries:

  • In 2016, 38,000 tourists from Japan visited Portland, spending over $72 million during their stay.
  • In 2017, trade between Oregon and Japan totaled nearly $4 billion, making Japan one of the state’s three largest trade partners after China and Canada.
  • Five of Oregon’s six top export countries—receiving at least $1 billion in Oregon exports—are in Asia: China, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, and Vietnam.?
  • Oregon companies have a substantial Tokyo presence including Nike, Columbia Sportswear, Keen, Ziba Design, and Weiden + Kennedy. 
  • More than 140 Japanese-affiliated companies operate within 90 minutes of PDX.