Recently, I shared our top 10 most popular non-stop destinations. Many of you asked, “What new cities would RDU like to add to its destination list?” Below are the top 10 U.S. cities that, based on historic passenger demand, we would like airlines to add to our non-stop list. I have also added some interesting facts about each route.
10. San Jose.
Passengers Per Day, Each Way (PDEW): 70
The business connections between RDU and SJC are strong and related to the high tech industries we share, but the city is very close to SFO, where non-stop service exists.
9. San Juan.
San Juan is a major tourist destination and is a connecting point for flights destined to other popular Caribbean cities.
8. New Orleans
Tourism is a driving force of New Orleans’ economy. It is also supported by oil/gas and related activities, the port and ship/boat building and aerospace manufacturing.
Non-stop service to Providence has been successful in the past, but three facts are challenging us today. Current demand is lower and airlines are retiring the use of smaller regional jets, which have provided service to the city in the past. Also, the destination is close to Boston which has nonstop service from RDU.
Portland is an “almost there” city, meaning that the demand right now is a little low, but almost there to justify non-stop service to the airlines. It’s also very expensive to fly non-stop across the country since you can get only one roundtrip per plane per day and it uses a lot of fuel.
This is a growing market with a diversified economy based on financial services, life science research and services, and high-technology and computer equipment manufacturing. Buffalo is considered one of the most wired municipalities in the U.S., with extensive fiber optic networks that are attractive to the high-tech entrepreneur.
4. Kansas City
More people fly between RDU and MCI each day via connecting points than those who fly nonstop from RDU to Pittsburgh. Just a few more passengers are needed to make this a financially viable long distance flight to the center of the U.S. where agribusiness is a big interest on both sides of the market.
3. San Diego
San Diego is firmly in our sights, although there are a few challenges. A flight of that distance takes a plane out of service for an entire day. It is financially risky for airlines to commit one plane to only making 2 trips per day, unless it can be guaranteed to have little or no empty seats.
From industries to culture, the synergies between RDU and AUS are nearly endless, and that’s why this is #2 on our list. So, what is the hang-up? Some air carriers would have to overfly a few of their hubs. In today’s economy, airlines often link passengers to cities by first flying them to one of their hub airports. From here, passengers can catch another flight to their final destination. This business model helps guarantee full or near-full flights. But there are exceptions to this rule, take RDU to SFO as an example, and therefore, we believe non-stop RDU-AUS service will become a reality.
Did you know more people travel to Seattle from RDU each day than to Miami, Washington-Reagan, Detroit, St. Louis or Houston? There is great demand for service to Seattle, which is 2,354 air miles from RDU. That distance requires a large plane and a healthy amount of fuel, which as we know, isn’t cheap. There’s also the overflying the hubs issue. But, we’re working very hard on making RDU-SEA a reality.
Want to dig deeper? Check out these blog posts by my colleagues to learn what it takes to recruit new air service to our region.