RDU’s Non-Stop Destination Wishlist

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.

San Juan

San Juan

9. San Juan.

PDEW: 71

San Juan is a major tourist destination and is a connecting point for flights destined to other popular Caribbean cities.

8. New Orleans

PDEW: 75

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.



7. Providence

PDEW: 75

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.

6. Portland

PDEW: 82

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.



5. Buffalo

PDEW: 98

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

PDEW: 108

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.

San Diego

San Diego

3. San Diego

PDEW: 116

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.

2. Austin

PDEW: 118

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.




PDEW: 165

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.

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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31 Responses to RDU’s Non-Stop Destination Wishlist

  1. Brian says:

    Delta can do Seattle nonstop! They can use it to link to Asian flights they’re trying to build up there. It’s becoming a hub for them, but they have to deal with their frenemy, Alaska Airlines there.

  2. Chris says:

    Why Buffalo instead of Louisville? Louisville is about the same size market and is not suffering a large population decline like Buffalo. When you had direct service through Midway and later Delta and Express Jet, the flights I was on were always nearly full.

    • Chris, thanks for the insight and your interest in RDU. To compile this list, we looked at how many people were traveling between the two cities each day, each way via connections. RDU-Buffalo is 98 passengers per day while RDU-Louisville is 41 per day. Many of the express flights used smaller regional jet aircraft that had a low seat capacity. Airlines are in a phase where they are retiring use of those jets in favor of larger planes with better fuel efficiency. Thus, they’re looking to serve markets with more passengers that can sustain those flights. We hope this helps. Thanks!

  3. Great list. Without looking at the numbers, they all make sense. I wouldn’t be surprise if Kansas City, Seattle, and Austin become reality. I believe IBM is in both RDU and MCI, I thought AA has a one-stop thru DFW for AUS (how many Thru pax are on that one?), and Seattle might make sense if Alaska wanted to start aggressively going after market share in Delta’s backyard. As a leisure traveler, these are all places I like to visit.

  4. Kris says:

    RDU to AUS as well as RDU to MCI were flown by WN (Southwest) back in or around 2000-2001. Have PAX volumes increased that much to each destination or has the fact that airlines have been able to charge more now then back then to allow these routes to be come more attractive? If memory serves me correct I believe the routing Southwest was flying then was RDU-MCI-SJC and RDU-AUS-SAN. Funny how all of those cities are again back on the “Top 10” list.

  5. nathan erteschik says:

    A few years ago Delta almost started RDU to Paris. Would be great to have that considered again.

  6. Carol Wakely says:

    STILL wishing you would bring back the Raleigh to Milwaukee route that was here for a while. There is not any good way to get to Wisconsin !! 🙂 Thanks

  7. Misha says:

    Please get some more flights going from RDU to PIT(Pittsburgh)..US airways has a non-stop service but it goes at very odd timings like 3:30pm on fridays…Its very expensive too.Something on friday evening will be good and if more flights go then the prices will come down too.

  8. Howarddabur says:

    I am wondering if RDU has made any headway on an RDU – SEA nonstop flight, I myself know MANY people who would love to make Seattle a nonstop destination.

    • Seattle is our number 1 nonstop destination goal. We are actively pursuing the route with a variety of air carriers. However, it is ultimately the airlines’ decision to begin the service and it does take a long time to acquire new service. Thanks for hanging in there with us!

  9. Chris says:

    Hi there! What about the top “International Cities Wishlist”? I would love to see such a thing…I’d be interested in learning where Paris, Rome, Frankfurt and even where some “near International” cities like Montreal and Vancouver rank.

    • We don’t have an international wish list per se, but here are five top international destinations people travel to from RDU. We’re also pursuing Frankfurt because of the abundant connection opportunities. This excludes North America. But, Montreal and Vancouver are the top two Canadian destinations after Toronto, though the number of people that travel to either right now are too low to support service.

      Paris-Charles DeGaulle
      Montego Bay
      Punta Cana

  10. Anna says:

    Is there an estimated timeline for making this nonstop flight a reality? I would be so excited!!!!

  11. Alison says:

    Seattle.. 165 pdew…. an A320 holds 150. Why wouldn’t an Airline jump on this? its a long distance and that will make a lot of revenue. Then theres Delta with many onward destinations from SEA.. I really don’t understand why the side of Raleigh/ Durham and the whole rtp/wake county population is well over a million and RDU is still at this size? Could you guys please explain this to me. I would really love non-stop service to SEA

  12. Allie says:

    Kansas City… 108 PDEW a crj-700 holds 70 people. Why doesn’t RDU have non- stop service to it? a CRJ-700 would be full all the time?

  13. Chris says:

    Hi Dave, any closer between RDU – AUS nonstop?

  14. Matthew Zhang says:

    Alaska Airlines is beginning a service to Seattle

  15. Soren says:

    It would be wonderful if we could get another RDU-direct-to-Europe flight (in addition to the RDU-LHR flight). Either Paris, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Munich, or Frankfurt would make traveling from RDU to European cities much more convenient. I know that Delta has been talking about RDU-CDG for many years, but nothing has happened yet. Personally, I would travel on an RDU-CDG, RDU-AMS, or RDU-CPH route several times a year.

  16. Inkyclouds says:

    What is the timeline of having nonstop from rdu-aus? I’ve been wishing for nonstop flights between austin and Raleigh for 5 years now…

  17. Austinpop says:

    You do remember AA operated an AUS RDU nonstop that they canceled after the financial crisis in Sep 2008?

    I would think the conditions that prompted that closure are long gone, so why hasn’t AA restarted the route?

    As I recall it had great load factors.

    This has always been a head scratcher for me.

    • We apologize for the length of time in responding to your comment. Austin is at the top of our wishlist for destinations, as we are for the city of Austin. Airlines make route decisions based on their business models, so we’re unable to provide an answer to why service doesn’t exist. We are lobbying multiple airlines for the service as it will be a great benefit for our residents.

  18. Chris says:

    Hi there! Now that we have acquired service to Seattle, can we see an updated version of this list? What does the new “Top 10” look like?

  19. Jennifer says:

    Are there any status updates regarding a non-stop flight from RDU to Austin? Are there airlines that are seriously considering adding this route soon?

  20. Alan R. says:

    Would love to see another European destination. Can you publish a top 10 International list as well with the flight statistics? Thinking Edinburgh or Glasgow would be interesting with the SAS connection; Germany would be interesting with Deutche Bank and others. Punta Cana is a big connection time barrier. Montreal would be excellent.

    An updated Domestic list would be great too.

  21. Harish S says:

    Now that there will be two non-stop flights to SEA, I wish PDX was higher up on the priority list. Although its a short connection from SEA, it still takes ~7hrs one way.

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