RDU served 8,795,128 passengers in 2021 compared to 4.9 million in 2020. The 80% increase in traffic is attributed to the declining impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on air travel.
“RDU finished the year strong thanks to a busy winter holiday season, with more than 943,000 passengers traveling through the airport in December,” said Michael Landguth, president and CEO of the Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority. “Although we have not fully recovered compared to the record-setting year we had in 2019, we are confident RDU will continue to grow at a healthy pace in 2022.”
The 943,000 passengers who flew through RDU in the month of December represented a 146% increase over 2020 and a 26% decrease from 2019.
Overall, RDU ended 2021 with passenger traffic at about 73% of 2019 levels, nearly 10% behind the national recovery rate of 82%. RDU’s market share was split evenly between business and leisure prior to the pandemic and corporate travel continues to lag the recovery of leisure travel.
RDU forecasts indicate passenger traffic will recover to 2019 levels by 2026. Traffic is expected to decline sharply moving into January, which is typically the slowest month at the airport.
Federal Funding: RDU will receive $73 million over the next five years from the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The entire sum will be used to help pay for the airport’s most significant capital project – the replacement of our primary runway, 5L/23R. The runway replacement is expected to cost nearly $400 million. The Airport Authority will continue to explore additional funding mechanisms for the project.