Going International: Middle East Rise and India Ties

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

Someone once said that everything old becomes new again. Centuries ago, the Middle East and India were known as the crossroads of the world due to their location on trade routes between Asia, Europe and Africa. Today, we are seeing a rise in Middle Eastern hub airports and deeper ties than ever before between our region and India.

Dubai, along with the rest of the Middle East, is an area to watch for growth.

Dubai, along with the rest of the Middle East, is an area to watch for growth.

Snapshot of the Middle East

Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways are now familiar names among frequent travelers. About 10 years ago, these carriers and their hub airports began to grow rapidly due to their geography, the emergence of Middle Eastern economies and changes in international air agreements.

Only a small number of travelers begin their flights at RDU and end them in the Middle East, but many people do use the cities of Doha, Dubai and Abu Dhabi to connect to points throughout Asia, Africa and India. As these cities and hubs continue to rise, we’ll keep looking for opportunities for more direct service to this region.

Growth In India

RDU sees alot of traffic to India annually.

RDU sees quite a bit of traffic to India annually.

Our deeper connections lie with India. Did you know that RDU is the 11th largest airport in terms of passenger demand in the U.S. to India? Our region is home to many people who are from or who have family in India. More than 29,000 people travel each year between India and RDU each year. That’s about 80 people each day. That’s more people that travel between RDU and India than from India to Denver, Seattle or Phoenix.

The cities in India that are the most popular from RDU are:

  1. Mumbai (BOM)
  2. New Delhi (DEL)
  3. Bangalore (BLR)
  4. Chennai (MAA)
  5. Hyderabad (HYD) 

Ties To India

The Research Triangle Region’s large population with connections to India is one of our biggest ties to India. Also, many of our technology and financial services companies have campuses, customers or contractors located in India. And, our ties extend to the academic community. N.C. State University has over a dozen partnerships with universities and academic institutions in the nation.

Traveling To India and the Middle East

The most common path for trips to India and the Middle East today is via one or two stops via Chicago or New York. Some travelers find easy one-stop connections through our nonstop flight to London Heathrow. As we discussed in our focus on Europe, we are looking to gain an additional nonstop flight to either Paris or Frankfurt, which will increase the number of one-stop connections to India and the Middle East.

Do you fly regularly to the Middle East and/or India? We’d love to know more about why you travel and where you go! Tell me in the comments below. Your feedback could help us in our quest for new service.

Next week, we’ll wrap up our series with a look at Australia, Africa and other regions of the world.

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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142 Responses to Going International: Middle East Rise and India Ties

  1. PatelRS says:

    We moved to RTP recently. It would be really nice to see direct flights to London/Paris/Mid-East where they have direct connections to India. Asking for direct flight to India would be too much and may not sustain but, direct europe and mid-east connection would help.

  2. snl gli says:

    The routes I take while traveling to Middle East/India depends on whether I am traveling for business or pleasure. I take the RDU-LHR flight while I am traveling on business(not with kids) as I do not have to worry much about changing terminals, the long lines of security checks at LHR and the cost of the ticket. The RDU-LHR flight though a little convenient as far as connectivity goes, I have to agree with some of the people that commented here that AA could use better equipment on this route. I guess they are just enjoying their monopoly. While traveling for pleasure with family, I do some bargain hunting and in most cases the routing would be RDU–>JFK/ORD/IAD/BOS-DXB/Abu Dhabi/Doha–>India. Sometimes, I actually prefer other itineraries to the RDU–>LHR–>India route because travel seems to be much less stressful with kids when you have a good entertainment system onboard(besides more legroom). Around peak travel seasons, we end up driving to the DC Area and take the IAD–>DXB/Abu Dhabi/FRA–>India routing because it ends up being much cheaper while providing one-stop connections. To tap the full potential of the market in Asia/Africa, Emirates is the best option from a traveler’s perspective but you probably have other metrics that need to considered too. Looking forward to additional international service to RDU!

  3. RDU Traveller says:

    My Family travels from RDU to Chennai atleast once a year. Also, every alternate year my Parents or In-laws visit us from Chennai to RDU. Since, they are senior citizens (wheel chair assisted) they would prefer a non-stop or 1-stop connection to RDU. The issue with MAA–>LHR–>RDU route is that they have to change terminals from 5 to 3 and do security all over again at London which is a hazzle most of the times. Also there is very limited seat availability and high prices coz of different airlines operating from MAA–>LHR (British) and LHR–>RDU (American). It would be really helpful if there are more connections to Europe or Middle East for passengers travelling to Asian countries from RDU…

  4. Rajesh Arumugam says:

    Hello RDU
    First, Thanks to RDU airport for the revamped T1 & T2, it looks world class and great… Second, the TSA for quick check-in & last but not least, the Immigration & Custom clearance, they are really good. I have personally, seen the customs officer walking outside the exit point and call the respective son/daughter when their non-english speaking parents (mostly old) reach the immigration point. Currently, we only have one connection LHR. Again, the LHR to Chennai or any Indian city does have a 12-18hr time lag during SUMMER SCHEDULE due to British airways connection in LHR. In Winter, they connect within 2-3 hours.
    It would be really great for RDU to host couple of more connections to INDIA (EUROPE or MIDDLE-EAST). With more and more Indian population growing, we would love to receive parents here in global friendly RDU airport than other cities. Also, we could send our TEEN kids alone from RDU if we have direct connection to Indian cities. The Kids could travel alone and we would be little less worried when they had to cross multiple cities to hop on an International Airline.
    Overall, this is a welcome change and it would definitely benefit Kids as well as parents.. Continue your good work RDU!!! GO Raleigh!!!!

  5. Mahhi says:

    We definitely need Direct flights that have services from RDU to india. Not only our family but visiting parents and in-laws can also use it otherwise you have to go to IAD and its lot of pain.

  6. sri says:

    My family travels a lot between Chennai (MAA) and RDU every year atleast two trips, it would be great to have other direct flight to Europe along with London, which helps us to book one stop flight to India from RDU.

  7. Rips Morrisville says:

    We do have a family in Mumbai and London. So an additional flight to Europe and also any direct flight from RDU especially to the middle east or India would be wonderful. This would lower cost of tickets due to competition and also there is enough Asian population in triangle for the airlines to cover the cost. Cost of tickets are more and also it is very time consuming and tiring when we take connecting flights from other domestic airports. We really need some direct connectivity from RDU to atleast middle east countries which makes it easier to go to Mumbai..

  8. Morrisville resident says:

    We have a family in Mumbai. So in current scenario a trip to Mumbai is not only expensive but also time consuming and tiring.. An additional flight to Europe and middle east airpot would definitely make the journey more comfortable and cost effective. Since there are lots of Asian population in the triangle area the airlines will be able to cover up their cost if they operate direct flights from RDU to middle east airport. It would be really great if we have a RDU-DUBAI-IND flights and also it would be nice if we have more RDU-LDN-IND options on a daily/weekly basis. Last thing, a direct flight from RDU-IND is also a great idea. This will shorten the journey time a lot.

  9. harry says:

    I have a family in INDIA(HYDERABAD), almost every year we travel to india. We definitely need an airline that have services from RDU to india. My parents can also use it to visit us. And i really appreciate RDU for collecting feedback like this. Hoping for a direct flight from RDU to the middle east, this will save a lot of money….Thanks

  10. Sirish says:

    Absolutely need better and faster way to reach India from RDU. Need More connections from RDU -to— Europe or RDU – Dubai are the key. Rest will work with connections that already exist from there to INdia.

  11. Nitin Goel says:

    Delhi, India is my hometown. If I need to search a flight from RDU then BA/AA is the only option which I found good for me because of the following reasons

    1. Only 1 stop from RDU to DELHI
    2. Both the flight duration are of 8-9 hours only and takes less time as compared to other airlines.
    3. Allows 2 check-in bags.
    4. Port of Entry is RDU direct (saves time & effort)

    I would love to see other flights which can provide me these things.

  12. GoodLuckIndia says:

    We travel every year to India. Good to see if we can go via RDU-FRA-BLR, RDU-FRA-HYD, RDU-AUH-HYD/BLR. Since we dont have many options in RDU today we choose to drive or take domestic flight from RDU to IAD or EWR or ATL etc…..

  13. Kedar says:

    This helps many indian families , I support this. There will be less hassle for indian families who are traveling to with children.

  14. cary says:

    Direct flight to Middle east or Europe from RDU makes very good business sense. RTP being technology center, there are lots of travelers going to India & coming from India. This route would cut down lots of travel time, will bring more international business to RDU. As many have suggested right now Emirates, Itihad, Qatar are fast becoming airline of choice for business travelers going to Asia.

  15. Suresh K says:

    My family of four travels to India once a year. It is invariably on AA to LHR followed by a connection to India (Hyderabad). Our parents visit us every two years. We would love to see alternatives to LHR, possibly via the mideast. If not, could we at least get AA to use a modern aircraft? The limited menu and ancient aircraft have me considering CLT/ IAD at times.

    Echoing what another poster said, we love RDU. T2 is simple, elegant, and yet awesome. TSA runs a fine operation at RDU as do USCIS/ Customs/ Agriculture.

  16. Venkatesh says:

    It will be good if there are more 1 stop flights from RDU to Chennai!.

  17. Ram says:

    We welcome the initiatives being taken by RDU to direct flights to India. With lots of Indian population in here mainly because of RTP, we would welcome if could have few more direct flights RDU-DUBAI-INDIA or RDU-LHR-INDIA. Would we more beneficial to us instead of taking hops to NY,DC, CHICAGO or BOSTON. Its tiring and layovers are really painful.

  18. Parag says:

    There are many immigrants from middle-east and south Asia. Direct flight to Dubai or Doha or Mumbai would be a good option and these are the key airports, from where everyone gets their domestic connections. There are many Indians in this area so it helps to grow this airport. We will also get passengers from Charlotte and Greensboro for these international connections.

    • Parag says:

      We Travel to Ahmedabad and there are many families live in this area. Usually we travel Through RDU-DC-BOMi-AMD or RDU-JFK-BOM-AMD or RDU-DC-Dubai_AMD…. Direct connection from RDU to Mumbai or Dubai or Doha will make it more easier like RDU-Dubai-AMD.

  19. NSS says:

    We do travel each year to India (Mumbai) and normally go to EWR for flight to Mumbai, it would be good option if we have more destinations to Europe from RDU to use as stopover to India.

  20. Vinsun says:

    We do travel every year between RDU and HYD. Also our parents & in laws visit us here in Raleigh. It would be great if we had one stop flights with less layover time and no terminal change between RDU and HYD. Direct flights would be too much to ask for. We would want our parents and in laws to travel without much stress. It feels sad to see that every time they it’s us or leave from here, they go through lot of stress.

    I would recommend convenient flights for adults over 40 years of age.

  21. Venu says:

    First, Thanks RDU for such a beautifully maintained airport! I love both of our terminals! It’s an oasis of tranquility and comfort compared to most airports in the US!

    I grew up in Hyderabad. Raleigh Durham area is my second home after I came to NCSU for my grad studies. I visit Hyderabad regularly. My parents visit us regularly from Hyd. There are a lot of folks in the RTP area that have ties to Hyderabad region.

    Favorite route currently is RDU-LHR-HYD. But as others have said, it is relatively expensive plus a 7hr layover at LHR is not that attractive. And of course the AA flight that takes us from RDU to LHR is quite outdated compared to what Qatar or Emirates have from US to Europe. In spite of this, many take the RDU-LHR direct flight. I’m sure AA knows how the Middle East airlines get those high ratings. The equipment Qatar/Emirates/Eitihad use is simply more modern, more comfortable. Their staff is super well trained and in general more professional.

    Yes, more direct flights to Paris/Frankfurt will help ! And if we can attract a direct flight to Dubai, even better. Direct flights to Dubai should appeal to all international travelers destined to the Far East, Australia and South East Asia.

  22. Suresh says:

    Hi, A direct flight to Dubai Airport/Abu Dhabi will give us more options to connect to different parts of India from there. Thank you!

  23. sri says:

    We do travel to India or someone from India visit us each year, each time it is really tough with kids and parents to start at home afternoon on a friday and then change plane in JFK or DC and then again another few hours halt in Europe and then reach home in India almost after 24 to 36 hrs from start. it is really tiring with so much timezone, change, food, check-in /check out at each terminal.
    if there is a flight to Dubai or Doha or frankfurt from RDU direct that will definetely help to skip couple of hops and save few hours and some comforat to reach India in better shape !.

  24. Sreeni Bommu says:

    Good Move we support this

  25. REDDYBHAI says:

    Any one stop trip to and from HYD to RDU will be appreciated.

  26. Ravi Boorugadda says:

    my self, my family and my parents I travel between RDU and HYD every year. It would be awesome, if we have either direct or one stop flight between RDU and HYD. this greatly helps my parents.

  27. Ss says:

    It would be fantastic to have a direct flight from RDU to one of the middle eastern stopovers like Dubai or abudhabi or Qatar . I travel at least 2 to 3 times a year to India and it would cut short the time spent in other airports like Chicago and JFK. it’s also hard for our parents to have a stopover in other cities in the US especially since they are older and have to collect baggages and recheck them in . It would be awesome if any one of the airlines ,emirates ,etihad or Qatar flew directly fr RDU

  28. Morrisville Resident says:

    Flying from RDU into any country directly is herculean task. Most of the times connecting flights are cancelled or delayed, which will force us to either reschedule or miss international flights. Wondering why there so much delay in inviting foreign airlines to fly directly into RDU. Lots of passengers from RTP area travel around the world through out the year. Current direct service to London and connections from London to other international destinations are horrible. Until and Unless there is competition and good service there is no room for improvement. How soon can RDU take a decision in allowing good airlines LH, Emirates, Qatar, Etihad or Air France to fly in and out of RDU. Also wondering why RDU is delaying inviting other Airlines to operate and provide alternates to passengers frequently.

  29. Mahdi says:

    Middle east will be a great option as it is emerging more as a hub and those airlines (qatar/emirates/etihad) offer much more comfort and ease compared to european and us airlines.

  30. Nitin Goel says:

    When can we expect these changes to happen? Any ETA??

  31. Allie says:

    If you guys could try to Get Emirates with 777-200LR service to RDU atleast twice weekly it will definitely work out.

  32. Nitin Goel says:

    Are we having any expected date when we can have more connecting flights to Middle East & India?

    • Acquiring new international service is like running a marathon. Right now, we’re in the late middle part of the race. We are hopefully that it will be in the next year or so. We are working hard with the business community to build a community fund to show interested airlines that we’re committed to making new international service successful.

      • Ashin Joseph says:

        Who decides if new airlines come to an airport or who decide if an airline from maybe rdu goes to new destination?

  33. Praveena says:

    Firtsly Thankyou ! We would love to ahve one stop connection either in Middle eat or london. We frequently travel RDU- LON- Hyd and we are looking forward to the middle eatern stop
    ( Dubai,Abu Dabi,Doha etc) to hyderabad.

  34. Ashin Joseph says:

    Hello, We Go to India every two years and we start our journey with a stop In Boston Logan Airport, or Kennedy International. Is there any chance for airlines like Emirates, Etihad, Qatar airways, or Airindia to come to RDu airport?

  35. Santanu Mohapatra says:

    I am from India and always fly via RDU-NY-Dubai-Bangalore, if there would be a flight from RDU to Middle east direct that can cut down via NY.

  36. Jagan says:

    This is good article. I was wondering why there are no direct flights to India as this place is one of the places where most Indian people live or travel to India. What is the time frame if at all any direct flightsunlight starting through middle east or Europe?

  37. Chandra Sekhar Sama Naga Venkata says:

    Hi RDU, This is a good article. We moved to RTP area..I just want to come up and give an idea that there is a huge indian populaiton in Charlotte , PTI region and RTP region . Atleast if we can have one direct flight either to Dubai or Abu Dhabi . It would be really benefecial for us.
    Emirates or Etihad will definately will have a huge potential in this region.Please connect us through emirates.Atleast once in a week definately it would be a huge success .

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