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.
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.
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.
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:
- New York-JFK
- 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:
- Los Angeles
- New York- LaGuardia
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!