One of my favorite days to work at Raleigh-Durham International Airport is when we announce new service between our airport and a new destination. My other favorite day is when I get to watch passengers board a new flight for the first time. It’s exciting to be a part of connecting our region to the world.
As the Airport Authority’s Deputy Airport Director for Marketing and Customer Relations, I work with airlines, businesses, regional economic groups and a host of others to bring new air service to our airport. It’s rewarding, but also one that requires lots of patience, planning and persistence.
Many people ask, when can we get service to this city or that city? What they typically are asking is can the airport ask an airline to begin non-stop routes between RDU and the city they’d like to travel to. If only it were that easy. Investing in new air service is a business, and one that the airline industry is very cautious about in good and not so good economic times.
It is important to point out that air service development is more than just a new route to a new city. It can be a host of options, ranging from a new airline to an additional flight each day to a city already served. Each has its own benefits and impacts the region in a positive way. Below are some examples.
New equipment. This is the aviation industry’s term for a new type of aircraft or a larger one to serve a route. Bringing a larger plane to serve a route opens more seats for passengers to travel.
Improved timing. Sometimes, improving air service simply means changing the schedule of an existing flight. Making the flight timed so that passengers don’t have to wait long to connect to other destinations at a hub for example, or moving the flight from a red eye to one that operates during the day. It could also mean making a flight easy for day trips to a city.
Additional frequencies. Frequency is an aviation term for how many times you can travel from one airport to another during the day. Adding frequencies not only means that there are more seats on the route but that there are also more options, making the flight more convenient for travel.
Direct or one-stop flights. There are times when there aren’t enough passengers to fill an airplane from one city to another. However, airlines may position an airplane so that it makes one-stop before reaching its final destination to pick up additional passengers. There is no need to change planes, so it’s an easy, direct, or one-stop flight.
Non-stop service. This is what most people think of when they talk about air service. Adding a new non-stop flight from one city to another generally takes a lot of time and work on behalf of the airport and community to establish. However, it’s the most sought-after type of service, bringing the easiest connection between two cities.
Next week, we’ll talk more about how the process of getting air service works. Sometimes it takes a long time between the first conversation with an airline and seeing the first passengers board an aircraft. In the meantime, tell me where you fly to the most from RDU!