Many Kinds of Air Service

One of my favorite days to work at Raleigh-Durham International Airport is when we announce new service between our airport and a new destination.  My other favorite day is when I get to watch passengers board a new flight for the first time.  It’s exciting to be a part of connecting our region to the world. 

As the Airport Authority’s Deputy Airport Director for Marketing and Customer Relations, I work with airlines, businesses, regional economic groups and a host of others to bring new air service to our airport.  It’s rewarding, but also one that requires lots of patience, planning and persistence.

Many people ask, when can we get service to this city or that city? What they typically are asking is can the airport ask an airline to begin non-stop routes between RDU and the city they’d like to travel to.  If only it were that easy.  Investing in new air service is a business, and one that the airline industry is very cautious about in good and not so good economic times.

Did you know that there are many types of air service? Earlier this year, Southwest Airlines launched new, non-stop service to Houston-Hobby from RDU.

It is important to point out that air service development is more than just a new route to a new city. It can be a host of options, ranging from a new airline to an additional flight each day to a city already served.  Each has its own benefits and impacts the region in a positive way.  Below are some examples.

New equipment.  This is the aviation industry’s term for a new type of aircraft or a larger one to serve a route. Bringing a larger plane to serve a route opens more seats for passengers to travel.

Improved timing.  Sometimes, improving air service simply means changing the schedule of an existing flight. Making the flight timed so that passengers don’t have to wait long to connect to other destinations at a hub for example, or moving the flight from a red eye to one that operates during the day.  It could also mean making a flight easy for day trips to a city.

Additional frequencies. Frequency is an aviation term for how many times you can travel from one airport to another during the day.  Adding frequencies not only means that there are more seats on the route but that there are also more options, making the flight more convenient for travel.

Direct or one-stop flights.  There are times when there aren’t enough passengers to fill an airplane from one city to another. However, airlines may position an airplane so that it makes one-stop before reaching its final destination to pick up additional passengers. There is no need to change planes, so it’s an easy, direct, or one-stop flight.

Non-stop service. This is what most people think of when they talk about air service.  Adding a new non-stop flight from one city to another generally takes a lot of time and work on behalf of the airport and community to establish. However, it’s the most sought-after type of service, bringing the easiest connection between two cities.

Next week, we’ll talk more about how the process of getting air service works. Sometimes it takes a long time between the first conversation with an airline and seeing the first passengers board an aircraft. In the meantime, tell me where you fly to the most from RDU!

About Teresa Damiano

Teresa Damiano is the Deputy Airport Director for Marketing and Customer Service. She directs air service development, guest services, communications, employee training and customer service. And, she's not afraid to bribe an airline with her famous homemade lasagna.
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10 Responses to Many Kinds of Air Service

  1. Brandon Goodwin says:

    Houston

  2. Ken Morrissey says:

    I travel to PHX frequently and just learned that Southwest eliminated their non-stop at the beginning of the year. Did I miss an announcement on this from the airport authority? We use to have 3 non-stops, 2 on Southwest and 1 on American West and now we have none. Is there a possibility that another airline could offer non-stop service in the near future?

    • Thanks Ken! Southwest is continuing to operate the flight daily through December, then it will not be on the schedule for January and February. We show it returning in March. Phoenix is an important destination for us and we will continue to work to improve air service to the city.

  3. Neil Brown says:

    I fly most to Rochester NY, probably never see direct to there.

  4. John says:

    Now this would be a very interesting destination, Barra Airport in the islands of the Outer Hebrides in Scotland. The only airport in the world where scheduled flights land on the beach!

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2a/Barra-Airport-Canthusus.JPG
    http://mytropicalsun.com/wp-content/images/articles/tr/newscontents_zoom_403.jpg
    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Em7xx_r0bHI/TnRXGGN3Q7I/AAAAAAAAMT8/ZG0X_eiHuHA/s1600/barra-airport-14%5B5%5D.jpg

    Alas, the small Twin Otter equipment needed wouldn’t be in range of RDU. Foiled, again. Oh well, I’ll take new RDU flight service to New Orleans, San Diego, and/or San Antonio.

  5. Jimmy says:

    Hi, nice article. Back in 2008, Delta was to launch Nonstop service to Paris (RDU and Pittsburgh were to launch together). It was then put on “hold” due to the economy. Pittsburgh ended up getting service I believe, but RDU to Paris still hasn’t happened. Is this still in the plans, or did Delta abandon it altogether?

    • Jimmy,

      Thanks for your thoughts. Some more information and background below.

      A second international destination, Paris or Frankfurt is something the Airport Authority believes is a good possibility in the near future. The additional access to Europe is one part of the equation, but another large factor is better accessibility to points in the Middle East, Africa and India because we are seeing growth in traffic between RDU and those areas of the world.

      We continue to talk to Delta about the viability of Paris. The Pittsburg community supported the service with a revenue guarantee to the airline. The addition of international service will require similar risk mitigation support from the community in support of a new service.

  6. Chris says:

    Teresa, we fly to Louisville fairly often. As you know, there’s been a direct flight from RDU a couple of times, only to be discontinued. I realize it’s not a major destination, but the flights always seemed full. Any chance of service to Louisville being restored? Thanks!

    • Chris,
      Louisville is not a large market and would likely require the attention of a regional carrier. It ranks as a market we make known to all carriers whose business model might fit. Sometimes it is just a matter of time and an uptick in the economy. We will continue to put it out there for discussion.

      Thank you for your interest.

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