Airport Authority Presents ‘Survival Budget’ to Board of Directors

Passenger Traffic Grows Incrementally in May amid Pandemic

The Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority’s Board of Directors approved a budget amendment Thursday that includes cuts made by the Authority to offset the unprecedented decline in revenue caused by COVID-19.

“The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have forced RDU to make difficult business decisions that include making deep cuts to our operating expenses and the projects we will pursue,” said Michael J. Landguth, president and CEO of the Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority. “The Authority’s new ‘survival’ budget’ reflects our commitment to safely and responsibly recovering and maintaining RDU’s economic vitality.”

The Board approved a budget amendment that reduces the Authority’s $297.2 million budget by nearly 45%, including deferring $96.1 million in capital projects. The new budget will allow RDU to keep the lights on amid the weakened demand for air travel, adapt the airport to new public health best practices and prepare for recovery. Major capital projects that will be deferred include the Terminal 1 four gate expansion, Terminal 2 security gate expansion, Park Economy 3 expansion and roadway improvements.

RDU Releases New Business Plan: RDU captured its budget priorities in a revised 2020-2021 Business Plan that includes the Authority’s actions to protect the health and safety of everyone who visits the airport, ensure financial solvency and recover from the catastrophic coronavirus event.

The Authority emphasized three strategic focus areas – Customer Experience, Fiscal Responsibility and Operational Excellence – to develop and prioritize the major projects it will undertake. Many important projects are being postponed so RDU can to sharpen its focus on accelerating the airport’s recovery efforts.

Passenger Traffic Makes Modest Gains: passenger traffic experienced modest gains in May with just under 98,000 passengers traveling through RDU. That is down 92.5% from May 2019 but up 145% from April 2020. The percentage of seats filled per flight also increased from 12.1% in April to 37.4% in May.

TSA reported screening 26,000 passengers at RDU for the week ending Sunday, up 29% from the previous week and a more pronounced rate of growth compared to the recent weeks. Airlines continued to adjust their schedules based on the weakened demand for air travel and make cuts to their July schedules. RDU’s passenger levels are consistent with airports in similar markets, where passenger traffic is also growing incrementally.

Terminal Stores and Restaurants Start to Reopen: several terminal stores and restaurants are reopening after temporarily closing in March due to low customer activity. In Terminal 1, Flight Stop opened June 12. 42nd Street Oyster Bar and California Pizza Kitchen re-opened in Terminal 2 today. ACC American Café and La Tapenade are expected to open on June 25 with modified hours, and Raleigh Taproom is expected to open by the end of the month.

Fly Confident. Fly RDU.: RDU has launched a new webpage to create awareness about its new health and health and safety measures. The Fly Confident. Fly RDU. webpage provides details about RDU’s new cleaning and disinfecting procedures, guidance from public health agencies, and information about concessions, parking and ground transportation. It also provides phone numbers that guests can call to learn about airline specific health and safety requirements before coming to the airport.

Delta Celebrates 50 Years at RDU: Monday, June 15 marked the 50th anniversary of Delta Airlines’ first flight from RDU. The airline’s inaugural flight from RDU was an 89-passenger Super DC-9 from RDU to Chicago on the morning of June 15, 1970. At the time, Delta said it chose RDU because North Carolina was an area of amazing growth and progress. Since then, RDU has become one of Delta’s largest non-hub airports, with up to 81 flights per day to 31 destinations worldwide.