The popular RDU-San Francisco route is growing again! Today, I’m happy to share that United Airlines is offering a second daily non-stop flight from April 1 to August 18 of 2014 in addition to its expanded holiday service.
This new schedule means you will have a choice between an early morning and afternoon departure to SFO and return options in the morning and early afternoon. You can buy tickets beginning tomorrow and see the published schedule.
The seasonal frequency addition to San Francisco is great news for our region. Strong use of this flight could lead to a year-round increase in service. Here are some insights on why the route is thriving:
The RDU-SFO route is in demand, making it a win/win for the airline and our community.
Load factors, or the percentage of seats filled on average, are extremely high. This shows there is strong demand for the flight. It also means that there is less risk involved for the airline and a higher probability of the route making money for the airline.
The RDU-SFO route has stimulated the market.
Market stimulation is airline-speak for giving people a reason to use a route. A non-stop SFO choice means passengers can fly direct to the city without stopping at a hub along the way. The ease-of-travel increases the likelihood of repeat travel. Also, people who live farther from RDU are more likely to choose to drive to our airport and fly to SFO versus taking a connecting flight from an airport closer to their home.
SFO has great international connections.
Our customers are discovering SFO to connect to their final international destination. The current flight is timed for easy connections to Asian hubs such as Beijing, Seoul and Tokyo. In Spring 2014, we’ll be able to add Chengdu, China to the list, the first mainland Chinese city other than Beijing and Shanghai served by a U.S. air carrier (pending final government approval.) And, the second daily flight makes getting to Australia a breeze!
The community has embraced the flight.
A successful flight requires the support of the community, particularly business travelers. There are many businesses with offices and headquarters in the Bay Area and the accessibility a non-stop flight affords strengthens our region’s business connections. Also, a big benefit is that San Jose is only a 45-minute drive from SFO, improving access to the Silicon Valley.
We’re not done yet.
There is still more work to be done. First, we’re working with United to install Wi-Fi on the aircraft used on the RDU-SFO route. This takes time because a large portion of the entire fleet of this aircraft type must have Wi-Fi installed before it can be scheduled in rotation to serve RDU. The good news is both RDU and the airline understand that Wi-Fi is very important to you.
The success of this service proves what we have known for a long time. There are more opportunities for nonstop service expansion in California and the West Coast. We’ll save that discussion for another time. Meanwhile, go ahead and book your tickets to San Francisco and let’s continue to make the route soar!