Airline Highlights: Delta Air Lines

This is part three of an occasional series highlighting the airlines that serve RDU. 

Serving RDU continuously for 43 years, Delta Air Lines has played an important role Raleigh-Durham International Airport’s history. Among the four original airlines to serve RDU along with Eastern, Piedmont and Capital, it is the only carrier that today flies under its original name. 

A Delta Air Lines plane at Terminal 2

A Delta Air Lines plane at Terminal 2

Delta landed at RDU on June 5, 1970, offering non-stop service to several destinations including Chicago, which was RDU’s only non-stop flight west of the Appalachians. By 1989, the carrier had built a significant presence in Terminal A with 13 daily flights to Atlanta, Cincinnati, Dallas-Fort Worth and other cities.

Growth and Merger

In the 2000s, Delta continued to grow at RDU, despite the challenges of 9/11, a major merger and the onset of the economic downturn. Shortly after the September 11 attacks, Delta was one of the few airlines to add service with new frequencies to Dallas-Ft. Worth.

Deicing of a Delta plane in the early 1980s at then Terminal A.

Deicing of a Delta plane in the late 1990s at then Terminal A.

In 2006, the airline grew again with non-stop seasonal service to Los Angeles, giving RDU its first non-stop service to the West Coast since 2001.

Delta’s presence at RDU grew again when it acquired and merged with Northwest Airlines, bringing non-stop service to Indianapolis and Minneapolis into Delta’s array of non-stop cities served. That same year, Delta moved from its longtime home in Terminal A to the new Terminal 2 as one of the first carriers to occupy the terminal.

Another major expansion was announced in 2010, during the economic downturn. In that year, Delta launched service to five new cities with additional flights to existing destinations for a total of 14 new daily flights. The new cities were Hartford, Columbus, Orlando, St. Louis and Tampa.

Delta Today

Former Airport Director John Brantley speaks at Delta's 40th Anniversary celebration in 2010.

Former Airport Director John Brantley speaks at Delta’s 40th Anniversary celebration in 2010.

As of August 2013, Delta is the top air carrier at RDU by market share, with 28.3 percent of all passengers. In 2013, Delta upgraded its seasonal non-stop service to Los Angeles to daily, offering a year-round link to the nation’s second largest city.

Recently, Delta announced non-stop service to Salt Lake City beginning in December. This announcement is significant in that it means RDU will be connected to each of Delta Air Lines’ domestic hubs, which include:

  • Atlanta
  • Cincinnati
  • Detroit
  • New York-JFK
  • Minneapolis
  • Salt Lake City 

In all, Delta offers an average 54 daily flights from RDU for a total of 380 flights per week to the following cities in addition to the hubs above:

  • Baltimore
  • Boston
  • Columbus
  • Hartford
  • Indianapolis
  • Los Angeles
  • New York- LaGuardia
  • Orlando
  • Memphis
  • Philadelphia
  • Tampa 

We’re excited about the growth of Delta at RDU and look forward to decades of prosperity to come. Do you have a memory of Delta’s early days at RDU? Tell me below!

About Dave Young

Dave Young is the Air Service Development Manager for RDU. In this capacity Dave acts as the advocate for RDU to the airline industry, promoting the benefits of RDU and the region. As a self-proclaimed “airline guy” Dave has a habit of referring to things in 3 letter codes.
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10 Responses to Airline Highlights: Delta Air Lines

  1. lazy says:

    If you ever give up yours seat for Delta bucks, get the amount in writing. I recently had them offer $ and only got credited 1/2 of that. When I inquired they cited FAA regulations stating what they did was fine.

  2. mihirpshah says:

    Great little summary of DL @ RDU. Just wondering if that deicing photo was from the late 1990s – it looks like the DL livery from that era.

    Keep up the good work!

  3. Fantastic Article! Delta is my preferred airline out of RDU. It’s a shame the Paris flight never happened. BTW, the picture of the Delta plane being de-iced ; the date is wrong. The livery on that plane wasn’t introduced until 1997.

  4. Brian says:

    I remember flying an old Tri-star jet from Raleigh to Atlanta, then to LAX back in the early 80s. At the time, that was the largest plane Raleigh could handle, I believe. I’m happy to be gold elite with Delta and look forward to their further expansion at RDU in the future.

  5. kellie taylor penny says:

    very good cookies and delta has very nice skycap people at curbside and they let me put the tag on our bag and when we went to florida we had a small flight with less seats

  6. kellie taylor penny says:

    love delta

  7. David Frandez says:

    fyi LGA is also a delta hub

  8. Derek Vaughn says:

    Most people don’t know that Delta Airlines was originally conceived as crop dusting service in the 1920′s. Delta got it’s name from the Mississippi and Louisiana “delta” region that it serviced in the early days of aviation. It eventually started carrying airmail and passengers, and the name was kept.

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