Passenger Traffic Continues to Lag Well Behind 2019

Airport Authority Board Shares Concerns About Development in High-Noise Areas

Raleigh-Durham International Airport saw an 18% increase in traffic in October compared to September and an 11% increase in flights being sold out of RDU. The total number of passengers who flew through RDU in October was just over 366,000, an 18% increase over September of this year, but a 71% decrease compared to October 2019. RDU anticipates seeing a moderate bump in traffic over the holidays.

“Next week marks the beginning of what would traditionally be a busy holiday season with a significant increase in the number of passengers traveling through RDU,” said Michael Landguth, president & CEO of the Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority. “Although we expect a modest increase, we anticipate that passenger traffic will remain well below the record-setting numbers we saw in 2019.”

American carried the largest share of passengers at 28% and Delta moved from third to second at 25%. Southwest and United represented 18% and 16% respectively. These four airlines accounted for 87% of RDU’s total departing passenger traffic for the month. RDU averaged 94 daily departures in October, up from 89 in September of 2020, but down from 231 in October 2019.

International Flights Return: RDU celebrated its first international flight since March 31 today when JetBlue’s nonstop flight to Cancun, Mexico (CUN) departed at 8:00 a.m. JetBlue will also begin nonstop service to Montego Bay, Jamaica (MBJ) on November 21.

FAA Noise Hearing: The FAA is making changes to air traffic procedures for RDU that will improve traffic flow in and out of the airport. The federal agency hosted a virtual public meeting on Tuesday to provide an overview of the changes and potential impacts.        For more details about the meeting and the FAA’s Community Engagement Initiatives for RDU, visit

Operation Clean Sweep: An important Airport Authority initiative that launched during a challenging time for RDU is drawing to a close. Operation Clean Sweep (OCS) allowed the Airport Authority to keep staff engaged when few people were flying, enhanced the airport and helped bridge the gap from a period of crisis response to long-term recovery.

OCS began in April and most initiatives concluded in October, with nearly 1,800 employee volunteer hours spent on tasks that included landscaping, painting, maintenance and data collection. Employees were also asked to take on additional cleaning responsibilities across Authority workspaces when the scope of our janitorial contract was reduced. By cleaning our own facilities, RDU employees saved the Authority approximately $157,000 in reduced contract costs.

Terminal Operations Team: RDU recently established a Terminal Operations Team (TOT) to ensure the airport’s stringent new health and safety measures are being followed. Guests will see TOT members dressed in blue RDU shirts walking the terminals to assist with line management, refill hand sanitizing stations and provide oversight of RDU’s strict cleaning and disinfecting regimen.

The Terminal Operations Team achieved impressive numbers in its first month:

  • 2,300 employee hours invested
  • 693 area inspections completed
  • 416 restroom inspections completed
  • 23, 123-point area inspections daily
  • 14, 23-point restroom inspections daily
  • Average restroom inspection score = 96.8%

Team members also walk a total of 460,000 steps a week – or more than 230 miles – the equivalent of walking from Raleigh to Asheville.

Click here to learn more about how the Terminal Operations Team will improve your travel experience.

Shuttle Bus Purchase: RDU has approved the purchase of eight shuttle buses that were bought by an airport vendor in May of 2019 for the Park Express trunk-to-terminal service. RDU’s agreement with the vendor who managed the buses included a provision for RDU to purchase them at any time. After analyzing the value of the shuttles and monthly management costs, the Authority agreed to purchase the buses for nearly $414,000, providing cost savings and giving the airport physical assets it can use to support future RDU operations.

New Podcast Episode: The second episode of “The Fly Angle,” RDU’s new podcast, launched this week. The new episode features the latest RDU headlines and a discussion on how airports recruit new airlines and flights even during the global health pandemic. You can listen to the “Fly Angle” on and on your favorite podcast app.

Admirals Club Reopens: American Airlines reopened its Admirals Club at RDU this week. The club will operate under American’s “Clean Commitment,” which ensures that all touchpoints are sanitized throughout the day. Hours of operation are Monday – Friday, 5 a.m. – 6 p.m. and weekends from 6 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Morrisville Noise Concerns: Members of the Airport Authority Board met with the Morrisville Town Council last week to express its concerns over potential residential development in high-noise areas.

A proposed change to the Town’s Land Use Plan would allow homes to be built in the Airport Overlay Districts (AOD). Residential development is prohibited within the AODs to protect residents from noise exposure and protect the airport from noise-related lawsuits and other negative impacts.

The Authority appreciated the opportunity to discuss Morrisville’s future land use and planning and looks forward to continuing to work with the Town Council on this issue.