Photo of Terminal A at RDURDU Terminal 1 History

 

This is a history of the building currently known as Terminal 1 at Raleigh-Durham International Airport. A section of Terminal 1 is currently receiving a $60 million renovation. Learn about the overall history of the airport.

  • The N.C. General Assembly charters the Raleigh-Durham Aeronautical Authority in 1939, which changes in 1945 to the Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority.
  • RDU's first permanent terminal opens in 1955. Terminal 1 replaced the old Army Air Corps operations/mess hall building, which served as the airport’s terminal until this time. Today, this building is the area housing the security checkpoint by Southwest Airlines.
  • The terminal has its first expansion, with the addition of a second floor and control tower in 1957-58.
  • Eastern Airlines brings RDU into the commercial jet age by beginning Boeing 727 jet service in 1965.
  • Delta becomes the fourth carrier to serve RDU in 1970.
  • The terminal expands again to include a third story in 1972. Today, this area houses law enforcement and other offices. In 1976, the section of the building that houses bag claims 4 and 5 was built.
  • Allegheny Airlines, later becoming US Airways, begins service at RDU in 1979.
  • The main section of Terminal 1, which is the section being modernized, opens in 1982. Then it is known as Terminal A. The section that opened in 1955 is renamed Terminal B.
  • Trans World Airlines begins service in 1984 as the sixth carrier to serve RDU passengers.
  • American Airlines begins service in 1985 as RDU's seventh carrier. It operates from Terminal A until the completion of Terminal C in 1987.
  • RDU opens the 10,000-foot runway 5L-23R in 1986, and Terminal C opens in 1987 along with a new air traffic control tower.
  • Terminal B, closed following several airline mergers in 1989, reopens in 1994. However, it is renamed Terminal A.
  • ValuJet, later to become AirTran Airways, begins service at RDU in 1995.
  • Continental Airlines also begins service in 1995.
  • RDU's first international carrier, Air Canada, introduces service to Toronto in 1996.
  • Canadian Regional begins service to Toronto in 1997.
  • MetroJet, a subsidiary of US Airways, begins service at RDU in 1999.
  • The nation's largest low-fare carrier, Southwest Airlines, starts service at RDU with 12 daily departures to five destinations in 1999.
  • In the first half of 2000, RDU opens a new $40 million terminal area parking deck providing a total of 2,700 new parking spaces between Terminals A and C.
  • The underground tunnel connecting the new parking garage to Terminal A opens in time for the busy winter travel season of 2000.
  • In 2001, RDU opens Terminal A south concourse for use by Northwest and Continental Airlines. The addition adds 46,000 square feet and 5 aircraft gates to the terminal.
  • America West begins service at RDU with flights to Phoenix and Las Vegas in 2002.
  • In 2003, RDU installs its first permanent work of art, a tile mural depicting North Carolina's ecosystems. The artwork is located in the pedestrian tunnel connecting the parking garage with Terminal A.
  • Independence Air begins service at RDU in 2004
  • RDU opens North Carolina's first airport-based USO center in 2004. The 1,500 square foot facility is located in Terminal A on the second floor directly above the AirTran ticket counter.
  • In 2005, Delta begins non-stop service to Salt Lake City.
  • Non-stop service to Los Angeles’ LAX begins in early 2006 by Delta.
  • Also in the spring 2006, Jet Blue begins service at RDU.
  • ExpressJet Airlines starts service at RDU in 2007.
  • On the same day Terminal 2 opens in October 2008, the Airport Authority renames Terminal A as Terminal 1.
  • In March 2009, Northwest Airlines moves from Terminal 1 to Terminal 2 to join Delta Air Lines as the two carriers officially merge operations at RDU as part of Delta’s purchase of Northwest in 2008.
  • Continental Airlines moves to the gates formerly occupied by Delta in April 2009 and the Airport Authority closes the Terminal 1 South Concourse, which opened in 2001.
  • In January 2011, U.S. Airways, Continental and JetBlue Airlines move from Terminal 1 to Terminal 2 ahead of a comprehensive building modernization project.
  • In May of 2011, AirTran Airways moves to the north end of Terminal 1 alongside Southwest Airlines. The move empties the main section of Terminal 1 of all passengers, carriers and tenants.
  • In July 2012, major construction begins on Terminal 1.
  • On April 13, 2014, Terminal 1 reopened as the home of Southwest Airlines at RDU.