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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- Campbell University has a campus affiliation in Kuala Lumpur.
- Duke University has campuses in China and Singapore
- N.C. State University has partnerships on six continents.
- University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has connections to schools in London, Singapore, China, Malawi and Quito.
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.