Labor Day weekend was the busiest at RDU since the global pandemic began, with traffic down 65.2% compared to the same holiday weekend last year.
“RDU saw a modest increase in traffic over the Labor Day weekend, but we don’t expect it to last as we head into the school year,” said Michael Landguth, president & CEO of the Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority. “Fall travel is typically more dependent on business traffic, and with corporate bookings around 90% below 2019 levels, the number of passengers flying through RDU is likely to drop in September.”
Three international flights are scheduled to return to RDU in the months ahead. American Airlines announced it will resume nonstop service to Cancun and London this fall, should demand and travel restrictions support it. Delta Air Lines plans to resume its nonstop flight to Paris in the spring and Air Canada intends to resume its Toronto and Montreal flights from RDU once international travel restrictions are lifted.
JetBlue Announces Five New Daily Nonstop Destinations: JetBlue announced it will launch five new daily nonstop destinations at RDU this year, including Cancun, Mexico (CUN), Montego Bay, Jamaica (MBJ), Ft. Myers, FL (RSW), San Juan, PR (SJU) and Los Angeles, CA (LAX). Cancun and Montego Bay are the first international flights to return to RDU since the global health crisis began. The LAX route is JetBlue’s first flight to the West Coast from RDU. The scheduled launch dates are November 19th for Cancun, Montego Bay, Ft. Myers and San Juan; and December 18 for Los Angeles.
Delta Air Lines is scheduled to relaunch nonstop service to LAX in October and American intends to resume nonstop service to LAX in November.
Terminal Operations Team: as the next step in protecting the health and safety of everyone who visits and works at the airport, RDU has established a Terminal Operations Team that will focus on inspecting the terminals to ensure that stringent new cleaning and disinfecting protocols and other requirements are being met.
The team will increase RDU’s focus on customer service and public health best practices by assisting passengers as they navigate the journey from check-in through TSA screening during peak periods. Team members will also inspect cleaning and disinfecting practices, replenish hand sanitizer and monitor compliance with the airport’s face covering and social distancing requirements.
More than a dozen RDU employees assigned to the Terminal Operations Team will conduct daily inspections of designated airport facilities between the hours of 5 a.m. – 8 p.m., seven days a week, to assure that RDU is doing all it can to protect the health and safety of airport guests and workers. The team will begin its work this month after completing comprehensive training.
Triangle Impact Challenge: RDU is tapping into the best minds in the Research Triangle region to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on air travel. RDU is working with Duke University, North Carolina Central University, North Carolina State University, UNC-Chapel Hill and RTI International to improve the air travel experience by finding innovative ways to keep passengers safe and healthy throughout their trip.
The airport and its partners have launched the Triangle Impact Challenge 2021: FlyRDU – an opportunity for students, faculty, and employees to serve as a driving force to design and develop inventive solutions that redefine the future of safe travel. A total of $120,000 of funding is available for the challenge with the potential for multiple awards. To learn more about the Triangle Impact Challenge 2021: FlyRDU, visit https://bit.ly/FlyRDU.
Passenger Confidence Survey: a survey of RDU passengers shows that those who have flown during COVID-19 feel more confident about flying again.
The survey of ParkRDU customers was conducted in July to help the airport understand barriers to airline travel during the pandemic, evaluate safety perceptions, develop key learnings to guide decision-making and develop data-driven recommendations for RDU to consider. The results determined that:
- 75% of respondents who have traveled by air during the COVID-19 pandemic reported that they would feel safe flying from RDU, compared to 27% of respondents who have not traveled.
- Flying through RDU during the pandemic improved customers’ perception of the safety of air travel.
- Two-thirds of respondents reported being at least somewhat concerned about the safety of their travel prior to their flight, but 51% of those who traveled during the health crisis indicated that they felt safer about flying after their trip.
- Customer feedback indicates that social distancing, the cleanliness of RDU’s facilities and the widespread wearing of masks among passengers and airport employees contributed to enhanced feelings of safety.
The survey results show that compliance with the mask requirement is the best way to make travelers feel safer. RDU asks that everyone who flies during the pandemic wear a mask throughout their trip.
TSA Equipment Upgrade: The Authority Board accepted a grant from TSA to upgrade airport security and baggage screening capabilities at RDU. The grant of approximately $3.4 million will fully cover the project costs.
Taxiway Repairs: The Board of Directors also approved a $635,000 Task Order for the reconstruction of Taxiway E. The taxiway pavement is 33 years old, has severe cracking and pavement deterioration and is reaching the end of its useful life. The rebuilding project will include replacement of concrete pavement, improvements to drainage, lighting and airfield guidance systems and construction of new asphalt shoulders.