The Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority Board voted Thursday to approve the Fiscal Year 2021-2022 budget and business plan. The $150 million budget allows RDU to direct its efforts toward stabilizing and recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic that decimated air travel in 2020. The airport will focus on increasing passenger traffic and recovering nonstop destinations lost during the pandemic.
“RDU is emerging from survival mode and entering recovery mode after the most difficult year in the airport’s history,” said Michael Landguth, president & CEO of the Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority. “Over the next year we will concentrate on welcoming more passengers back to the terminals and restoring flights to popular destinations for business and leisure.”
The proposed budget goes into effect on April 1 and includes $73 million in operating expenses, a 9% reduction from last fiscal year. The budget also contains $28 million in spending on capital projects, a reduction of 28% from the previous fiscal year. Projects included in the budget are the continued preservation of 5L/23R, RDU’s primary runway; an environmental assessment for the Runway 5L/23R and Taxiway B replacement program; the beginning of a multi-year fuel facility improvement program and the rehabilitation of other critical airfield pavement surfaces.
Bond Rating: Fitch has reaffirmed the Airport Authority’s ‘AA-’ bond rating. Fitch cited the Authority’s prudent financial management during the global health crisis, strong service area and diverse airline mix among its reasons for reaffirming the bond rating.
Growth Expected in March: March is predicted to be the busiest month at RDU since the onset of the global health crisis in 2020. The current March traffic projection for RDU calls for a total of 470,000 passengers during the month. About 300,000 passengers traveled through RDU in February, down nearly 69% from February 2020.
TSA screened more than 55,000 departing passengers at RDU for the week ending March 14. It was the second busiest week since the pandemic began, right after the week between Christmas and New Year’s.
Vaccine Boosts Confidence: Passengers continue to report confidence in RDU’s health and safety measures and say they are more likely to travel by air as distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine becomes widespread, according to a March survey of RDU guests.
An online survey of RDU travelers found that 76% of respondents agree that being vaccinated against COVID-19 makes traveling by airline safer. In addition, 72% of those who have been vaccinated said they have either flown since they got the vaccine or intend to book travel after being fully vaccinated. 91% of respondents indicate that they have either already been partially or fully vaccinated or intend to be soon.
Travel Requirements Tool: RDU is the first airport to launch a new online tool that will help customers plan their travel by staying up to date with latest COVID-related entry requirements and local regulations at their destination. The Travel Requirements tool captures travel data from sources around the world and displays it on an interactive web page at rdu.com. The tool provides quarantine and testing requirements, instructions to follow upon arriving at your destination and guidance about whether restaurants and attractions are open. The system compiles data and makes it available through the interactive map in a mobile-friendly and user-friendly experience. Armed with the most recent information, travelers can make informed decisions while planning their trips.