Airline Highlights: United and US Airways

This is the final part of a series highlighting the airlines that serve RDU. 

Both United and US Airways have historically had a smaller presence at RDU, but their impact is no less important to connecting our passengers with destinations throughout the U.S. and the world.

United Airlines

The very first United Airlines nonstop flight from RDU-SFO receives a traditional water arch in August 2012.

The very first United Airlines nonstop flight from RDU-SFO receives a traditional water arch in August 2012.

For the past 67 years, United Airlines has played an important role at Raleigh-Durham International Airport. When it first touched down at RDU in 1947 as Capital Airlines, it was one of the original four airlines to serve the airport. The others were Delta, Eastern and Piedmont.

Originally, Capital, which merged with United in 1961, connected RDU with Chicago, Washington and Newark. As the airline became known for its strong international service, many are residents relied upon the airline to connect them to Europe and Asia, giving our region strong one-stop connections to these regions as far back as a few decades.

In January 2011, Continental and United merged operations at RDU, expanding the carrier’s presence at RDU with service to Houston Intercontinental Airport.  Nonstop service to San Francisco began in August 2012, which is one of RDU’s most successful and popular domestic routes.

Today, United serves these cities from RDU:

  • Chicago-O’Hare
  • Cleveland
  • Houston-Bush
  • Newark
  • San Francisco

US Airways

A US Airways aircraft taxis toward the runway at RDU.

A US Airways aircraft taxis toward the runway at RDU.

Two airlines that preceded today’s US Airways touched down at RDU years apart. Piedmont Airlines first touched down in 1948 and with it the number of daily flights at RDU rose to 22. Decades later, in 1979, Allegheny Airlines arrived at the airport. A few months later it changed its name to US Air and has been a mainstay of service to the Northeast and in particular Pennsylvania ever since.

Throughout the 1980s, US Air was the primary way to travel from N.C. to Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, which were both strong international hubs. With the acquisition of Piedmont in the 1980s, the airline gained Charlotte as a hub, opening up more one-stop international opportunities for regional residents. US Air then became US Airways in 1997.

Shortly after September 11, America West Airlines, which would later merge with US Airways, launched daily non-stop service from RDU to Phoenix. Over time, the carrier began serving Washington-Reagan airport as well, giving more access to the nation’s capital.

In 2012, US Airways announced a merger with American Airlines, a process that is still underway at RDU. Both carriers operate their own ticket counters and flights, however, the US Airways club has closed.  The merger is expected to be complete here locally in late 2014 or early 2015.

Today, US Airways serves these cities from RDU:

  • Charlotte
  • Philadelphia
  • Pittsburgh
  • Washington-Reagan

About Dave Young

Dave Young is the Director of Air Service Development 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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8 Responses to Airline Highlights: United and US Airways

  1. airbrit says:

    I think you missed United’s shuttle service to Washington Dulles!

  2. Lew Tripp says:

    That’s a great history lesson. My first RDU flight was in 1966.

  3. airbrit says:

    I think you missed the United shuttle service to Washington Dulles!

  4. When did the US Airways Club close? I thought both AA and US Airways were still operating separate clubs.

  5. Bob Macdonald says:

    Great series. Love the history of the airlines that serve/have served RDU. Without going back and looking at each story, which airline currently serves the most cities directly from RDU? My guess would be Southwest as the others seem to mostly funnel to their hubs. Is that correct?

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