RDU traffic higher than expected, airport to offer ‘incentives’ to get more international flights

Versie Dortch

RALEIGH-DURHAM AIRPORT – The Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority announced today that passenger traffic through RDU airport was higher than expected and that it will offer incentives to air carriers in an effort to boost international flights in 2022.

The goal of the new program announced by the airport is to induce air carriers to offer more non-stop international flights to and from RDU.

According to the airport’s statement, the program will provide “financial incentives for airlines.”  The statement notes that by adding new international destinations, connectivity will be improved.  The airport stated that forecasts are predicting that more people will resume international travel during the summer of 2022.

“RDU’s new international air service incentive program allows the airport to offer fee waivers to qualifying nonstop routes,” a spokesperson for the airport told WRAL TechWire today.  “The program’s chief goal is to encourage the successful launch of new service from RDU to international destinations, including transatlantic service.”
Qualifying flight routes must be “unserved by RDU since 2019” and must be “at least 1400 nautical miles away” according to the airport.

For example, the paused American Airlines service to London and Delta Air Lines service to Paris would not be eligible for this incentive, as it applies to routes not served since December 2019, the airport states.  “They are covered under an incentive already in place that waives landing fees for those markets when they return,” the spokesperson said.

There are currently three international nonstop flights, according to the airport’s website.  That includes flights to Cancun, Mexico; Montego Bay, Jamaica; and Toronto, Canada.  Prior to the onset of the global coronavirus pandemic, there were five international nonstop flights, the airport’s website states.


RDU Image of nonstop destinations from RDU.


Air travel higher than expected at RDU

802,000 total passengers flew through the airport, according to a statement issued by the Authority.  That is 8% higher than the airport’s prior forecast anticipated.

“Passenger traffic at RDU outpaced the national recovery in September, which is a really great sign for our market,” said Michael Landguth, president & CEO of the Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority.  “The trends we’ve seen over the past few months indicate RDU is in a good position to continue down the runway to recovery.”

Data from September 2021 “suggest the industry is returning to the stable recovery that preceded the Delta variant,” said the airport in a statement, adding that declining COVID mortality rates are correlated to increasing airline ticket sales.

The airport previously reported that 968,000 passengers traveled through the airport in July 2021, which was the seventh straight month of passenger traffic increases.  In August 2021, RDU had more than 880,000 total passengers, a decline of 11% from the prior month, but a 171% increase compared to August 2020.

Traffic through the airport is also resulting in challenges with parking availability, the airport noted.

In response to passenger traffic increasing, the airport announced that the drive-up rate for ParkRDU Central will increase by $1 per day, beginning on November 1.  The rate for customers who book online at ParkRDU.com with at least 24 hours notice will still be $10 per day, the statement noted.

“Dynamically adjusting parking fees helps RDU ensure there are enough spaces in the deck or remote lots while maintaining options for a wide range of travelers,” the statement from RDU reads.  Revenue generated from parking fees are reinvested in improving parking facility and roads, maintaining runways, and funding other infrastructure projects, the airport stated.

The airport was recently named the 3rd best large airport in North America for customer satisfaction by J.D. Power.


RDU traffic higher than expected, airport to offer ‘incentives’ to get more international flights

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