The airport in Portland is not a hub but it is about to set off a hub fight. The Oregon city, about 150 miles south of Seattle, has long been hungry for more international service, especially European service, and a committee of local travel groups and business such as Nike, the sports shoe company based nearby, has been an active one. Most international flights out of Portland are north to Canada, to Vancouver’s big overseas gateway, or south to Mexico. Back in 2003, the committee persuaded Lufthansa to launch PDX-to-Frankfurt flights, the first-ever non-stop link between PDX and Europe. Now the city is celebrating its victory in persuading Northwest to launch non-stops to Amsterdam that start next March. Service will be on an Airbus A330-200s with 32 business class seats and 211 economy seats. The service sets up a competition between Lufthansa’s major German connecting operation and the KLM hub at Schipol.
Whichever wins, Northwest will have a place in Portland’s heart, because it became the city’s link to Asia after Delta dropped its Portland to Japan non-stops in 2001. PDX spokesman Steve Johnson says that Northwest initiated talks about the route, but that the city had waived about $1 million in first-year fees and was also cooperating in marketing the new service to Amsterdam with a five-year package worth about $1.9 million.