Travel Updates: Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Information for travelers about Coronavirus
An outbreak of a respiratory disease caused by the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) was first detected in China and has now been detected in more than 125 countries, including the United States. The federal government has declared a public health emergency for the U.S. and established a task force dedicated to addressing this rapidly evolving situation. At this time, most people in the United States have little immediate risk of exposure to this virus.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), because of how air circulates and is filtered on airplanes, most viruses and other germs do not spread easily in airplanes and the risk of infection while traveling by air is low. CDC suggests that travelers avoid contact with sick passengers and wash their hands often. Symptoms may appear 2 – 14 days after exposure and include fever, cough and shortness of breath. CDC recently recommended that individuals wear a cloth mask in public settings, particularly where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
How you can stay healthy
Public health experts recommend good personal hygiene as the best way to prevent illness, including:
- Washing your hands frequently, covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then throwing the tissue in the trash and washing your hands.
- Avoiding contact with people who are sick and staying home when you are sick.
- Avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
RDU is working with public health officials at the local, state and federal levels, along with Airports Council International, the trade association for airports around the country, on best practices associated with the coronavirus. We are tracking the latest information from public health experts and continue to stay apprised of the latest developments regarding the spread of the virus.
Travel advisories are in place for countries experiencing outbreaks of the coronavirus. If you are planning to travel, check with your airline with any questions about your itinerary. Airline contact information and travel alerts can be found via the “Resources” section of this page.
All employees, travelers and other visitors to Raleigh-Durham International Airport are required to wear a face covering or mask in accordance with the state of North Carolina’s recent executive order. The face covering requirement takes effect Friday, June 26.
The executive order includes all public spaces at RDU. Travelers should also check with their airline prior to coming to the airport, as airlines may require face coverings during flight.
Did you leave your mask at home? Don’t worry. You may visit Guest Services at the information desk in either terminal and they will issue you a mask (available while supplies last).
Travelers also can find masks at several of the Shops of RDU, including ink by Hudson (Gate D1), WRAL Travel Store (Gate D5), City Market News (Gate C8) and TripAdvisor (Gate C16).
Learn more about the executive order and Face Coverings at RDU.
The number of nonstop flights and daily departures at RDU are expected to increase in July after a recent uptick in passenger traffic. RDU had 23 nonstop routes and an average of 43 daily departures in June. The current July schedule includes 27 nonstop markets and an average of 68 daily departures.
Airlines continue to make cuts to their schedules, with 66% fewer available seats in July and 25% fewer in August compared to the same months in 2019. July did see a small uptick as Southwest added once-daily service to Tampa back to its schedule.
The number of passengers flying through RDU continued its growth trend last week, marking eight straight weeks of year-over-year traffic improvements.
For the week ending June 14, the TSA reported exactly 26,000 screened passengers – down 84.9% year-over-year, but up 28.9% from the previous week – the largest week-over-week increase since the pandemic hit. TSA screened 4,713 total passengers on June 14, down 81.5% from the same day in 2019, marking the third Sunday in a row with the highest number of passengers screened since mid-March.
Leisure travel continues to fuel the incremental growth observed over the previous eight weeks. Passenger growth at RDU is expected to continue slowly rising as businesses resume corporate travel and travel restrictions are relaxed. The passenger growth trend could be stunted if there is a resurgence of COVID-19 cases, or if new government orders discourage or prevent discretionary travel.
Passenger traffic continued to make modest gains during the week ending June 7, with TSA screening 19,392 departing passengers at RDU. That was an increase of 20% from the previous week but a decrease of 87% from the same week in 2019. TSA screened 3,712 screened passengers on Sunday – the highest traffic count RDU has experienced since March 18, 2020.
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 traffic is also growing incrementally. RDU staff will continue to monitor passenger screening data and report weekly on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on air travel. The May passenger traffic report will be presented at the June 18 board meeting.
For the week ending Sunday, May 31st, TSA reported screening 16,188 departing passengers at RDU – up 14.5% from the previous week and down 88.6% from the same week in 2019. This data continues a positive passenger growth trend after declines of nearly 97% in mid-April.
Airlines continue to make adjustments to their schedules, with the number of available seats down 80% compared to June 2019 and nearly 50% for July. RDU’s airline partners have not made significant adjustments to their August and beyond schedules.
RDU staff will continue to monitor airline schedules and passenger trends, and will release the May 2020 passenger traffic total at the June 18 board meeting.
RDU experienced its busiest week since the global pandemic devastated air travel in March, with the largest number of passengers traveling through the airport on Memorial Day.
TSA reported screening 14,921 passengers at RDU for the week ending May 26th, a 30% increase over the previous week and a 90% decline versus the same week in 2019. TSA screened 2,778 departing passengers on Memorial Day, which was the highest screened passenger count at RDU since March 24th.
Although RDU’s passenger counts remain significantly below 2019 levels, the airport continues to see incremental growth on a weekly basis. Traffic at RDU bottomed out in mid-April at 96.5% below 2019 levels. Since then, RDU traffic has steadily increased to 90% below pre-COVID levels.
In June, airlines are scheduled to fly 21% of the capacity flown in June 2019 and July schedules call for 62% of 2019 capacity. August remains comparable to 2019, but airlines continue to make adjustments to their short terms schedules.
Airlines added 431 additional domestic departures to the June schedule last week, suggesting that more people are booking flights than previously expected. RDU staff will continue to monitor these and other trends to determine their overall impact to RDU’s 2020 passenger forecast.
TSA screened nearly 11,000 departing passengers at RDU during the seven-day period ending May 15, a 93% decline compared to the same time period in 2019.
Although passenger traffic at RDU remains more than 90% below 2019 levels, it has increased slightly over the last month. The small but gradual increase in travel demand is consistent with what has been reported by other U.S. airports.
RDU will report April 2020 total passenger numbers at the board meeting next Thursday. Airlines have cut their May and June flight schedules by 82.9% and 75.7%, respectively when compared to 2019, with more cuts anticipated. These lower levels of service are likely to continue until passenger demand requires an increase in the number of daily scheduled flights.
RDU will continue to monitor airline schedules and passenger traffic. The next air service update will be posted Tuesday, May 26.
TSA at RDU screened 8,168 passengers during the week ending May 7 – down 94.5 percent from the same week last year. Thursday, May 7 represented the highest screened passenger traffic level for the week, at 1,391 screened passengers. That day also marked RDU’s highest screened passenger total since March 29th.
Consistent with airports across the country, RDU experienced a slight uptick in traffic during the past two weeks, though passenger levels remain around 95 percent down year over year.
For the week, RDU averaged 38 daily departures – down from an average of 218 for the same week a year ago. Airlines reduced capacity, or the number of total seats, by 84 percent year-over-year by limiting the number of flights and downsizing aircraft. The schedule and capacity reductions allow RDU’s airline partners to temporarily right-size their operations for current demand levels. As a result, cancellations of scheduled departures from RDU were dramatically reduced – from a peak level of approximately 180 cancelled arrivals and departures in late March to zero as of May 7.
RDU staff will continue to monitor passenger and airline schedule data, and will provide weekly updates on this page as COVID-19 impacts to airline passenger traffic continue.