Lease vs. Sale: What Property Means for RDU

The Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority recently issued a Request for Proposals for the leasing of the three undeveloped parcels pictured above.

Keeping you connected and powering our region’s economy are two things we get excited about at RDU. Our airport is built to serve the community and we take that commitment seriously, that’s why we have carefully considered various land use requests we’ve received in recent months regarding airport property adjacent to Umstead Park.

As part of the Vision 2040 master planning process, the Airport Authority received a request from The Conservation Fund to purchase some airport property. Our long-standing practice is to not sell land. This is necessary in order to comply with a myriad of federal laws and regulations, have adequate space for future development, and just does not make good business sense.  So let’s dive a little deeper into why we do not sell property.

Safety is Always Our First Priority

Federal Regulations prohibit airports from taking actions that could conflict with maintaining the safety, efficiency, and utility of the airport. Like airports across the country, federal laws and regulations require RDU to maintain large areas to make sure airport property is preserved or developed in a way that does not compromise safety.

We Must Comply with Federal Regulations

RDU and our owning bodies – the counties of Wake and Durham, and the cities of Raleigh and Durham – are required to prevent the creation of incompatible land uses to remain in compliance with federal grant assurances. This means that if RDU was to sell land that became a park, school, or residential dwelling, the Authority would violate those federal requirements.

A Sale is Forever

A sale is forever – once land is sold, it is near impossible to recapture. The Authority cannot predict all the future needs of RDU or how it will need property to accommodate these future needs. The only way we can maintain flexibility to meet future needs is by keeping ownership and control of the surrounding land so that your airport experience can remain exceptional for years to come.

We Need Space to Spread Our Wings

Planes require a significant amount of space to operate safely. Airports need ample protection zones around terminals and runways to help mitigate noise and other impacts, while ensuring safety for travelers, airport-based staff, and members of the community.

Finally, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) must approve every sale of airport land and given the continued growth of our region, we doubt they would want us to sell any property.

We DO Consider Land Leases

While we do not sell property, we will consider land lease proposals that make good business sense. Lease agreements give the Airport Authority extra flexibility to respond to future demand and land use requirements. They also provide an ongoing funding stream to help keep our operating costs affordable to our airline partners.

Currently, the Airport Authority is soliciting proposals to lease one, two or three parcels of airport property adjacent to Umstead Park. If you are interested, please find the Request for Proposal here.