German airline adds Portland to cities it serves.
PORTLAND - Lufthansa said Wednesday that it chose Portland International Airport over Seattle to add another U.S. city to its international service, beginning next spring.
The announcement by the German airline and Oregon officials was greeted with cheers by business leaders who gathered at the Portland Art Museum to welcome the return of international passenger flights to Oregon.
The only international service from Portland ended last year when Delta Air Lines eliminated its flight to Japan, resulting in a joint effort by Oregon's top political and business leaders to find a replacement to help revive a state economy that depends heavily on exports, trade and tourism.
To lure Lufthansa to Oregon, they created a `travel bank' with $10.8 million worth of advance commitments and pledges to use the service, which begins March 31.
`I have a simple message - Portland is going to be a big-league, world-class, premier business destination,' said Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore.
Lane County officials said the flights may help the county's tourism industry. Lane County officials said they have pitched the county's scenic beauty and recreational opportunities to the German market for a number of years. Last year, 13 German travel publications or TV programs highlighted Lane County destinations, said officials at the Convention and Visitors Bureau of Lane County Oregon.
Lufthansa vice president Thomas Winkelmann said the airline hopes to build a strong business passenger service along with promoting tourist travel to the Northwest.
`The future of any significant economy is the global marketplace,' Winkelmann said. `We hope this will get you better access to that global market.'
He said Lufthansa is offering an introductory round-trip fare of $419 on the new nonstop flight to its Frankfurt hub, or $479 to any other city in Europe served by the airline via Frankfurt. The offer is good from Thursday through Nov. 25 for flights from March 31 to May 31.
Mayor Vera Katz joined Wyden to welcome Winkelmann and Lufthansa, noting that she had been born in Duesseldorf, Germany, but had never been back for a visit.
`But with a fare under $500, maybe it's time,' she said.
Wyden also joked that he serves on the Senate aviation subcommittee, `so let me know what policy you need to keep that fare structure.'
Wyden and Katz both said the Oregon economy is showing signs of recovery, including the announcement this week that Portland-based Freightliner, the largest heavy truck manufacturer in North America, had opened a new production line in Portland.
Air China announced earlier this month that it would offer nonstop air cargo service from Portland to China, beginning Sunday, and Toyota is expanding its automobile import dock operation at the Port of Portland.
Thomas Winkelmann (left) of the Americas of Lufthansa German Airlines presents an Airbus model to Portland officials Wednesday.