Going International: Our Connected Community

This is the second in a 6-part series about RDU’s pursuit of new international air service. Read the first post. New posts are added each Friday through September 19. 

RDU is on a mission to gain new international air service. But is our region really ripe for international air service growth? The answer is yes! Two things that comprise our readiness are our geography and our population. 

Our Geography

RDU draws travelers from a good portion of North Carolina.

RDU draws travelers from a good portion of North Carolina.

RDU draws its passengers from an area comprising a two-hour drive from the airport. That radius stretches from the western Triad to the coast and from southern Virginia to the Sandhills. It’s an area covering thousands of square miles with cities large and small and a significant population.

But beyond geography, you can see that our immediate region is incredibly diverse with many international links. Our international connectivity is clear in our population, our businesses, our universities and existing travel patterns of our customers.

Our Population

Take a look at two sets of numbers. The first is the immediate RDU area (Wake, Durham, Orange and Johnston counties). The second is the state of North Carolina as a whole.

*stats via the U.S. Census bureau RDU area North Carolina
2013 Population Estimate 1.6 million 9.8 million
Number of Foreign Born Citizens (as of 2010) 185,000 719,000
Percent of non-English speaking only households (as of 2010) 16 percent 10.8 percent

It’s easy to see how we serve a large population. When you look at the number of foreign-born citizens and non-English speaking households, you also see a community that likely has reason to travel internationally.

Business Connectivity

A solid volume of overseas business travel is essential to secure new international service. Also, businesses with international headquarters and locations are more predisposed to travel overseas. Therefore, we work with the local business community to understand how they are linked to locations throughout the world and how they make international connections to make trips shorter and to help support potential new routes.

More than 170 global companies are located in RTP. Photo courtesy of the Research Triangle Foundation.

More than 170 global companies are located in RTP. Photo courtesy of the Research Triangle Foundation.

In the Research Triangle Park alone, there are 170 global companies. Many more lie outside the bounds of Wake and Durham counties and new international service would be a strong reason for them to fly from RDU or to receive inbound international visitors.  As we take a region-by-region look the next few weeks, we’ll share more about the companies and industries that tie us to different parts of the world.

Connections by Education

Our service area is known for innovative and thriving universities. Did you know that there are approximately 180,000 college students in our region during the school year? Several of these college campuses have global ties, which translates to international travel.  Here’s a quick look at four examples:

Connections by Travel Patterns

One other way to see how we’re connected globally is to analyze where people currently travel. What cities are they using to connect to their final overseas destination? How are international travelers arriving at RDU? By looking at existing travel patterns, we can target new air service most effectively to benefit the largest number of travelers.

Do you know of another international connection? Perhaps a reason your company or group travels internationally? Tell me in the comments below!

Join us next week as we begin our global tour of international opportunities. First stop: Europe.

About Andrew Sawyer

Andrew Sawyer is the External Communication Specialist for the Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority and is the main writer for RDU’s website, electronic communication and airport publications. He’s also the primary face behind RDU’s social media channels. Andrew also assists with many other things, from media relations to event planning. In fact, he has an advanced degree in "other duties as assigned."
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3 Responses to Going International: Our Connected Community

  1. Bob Stocking says:

    I work for a small training and consulting firm, but many of our clients are large multi-nationals, so we do a fair amount of international travel. Tomorrow I’m heading to Shanghai. I support RDU’s efforts to gain more international flights, but I’m also amazed that I will come home from Shanghai in just two flights, via Detroit.

  2. huslage says:

    I’ve been all around the world in the past 4 years. Mostly to Africa, which would never be a good destination from RDU. But I know that connectivity is important and the way to the east is through Dubai/Abu Dhabi/Doha. I would think that Emirates or Qatar would be a good fit with a 787 service from RDU to Dubai/Doha. Given our significant traffic to India and Asia, this would be a strategic fit. Given these airlines’ extensive networks and expansion plans into smaller markets, we could do much worse.

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