Morrisville, N.C. — Raleigh-Durham International Airport set a new benchmark in 2019, with a record number of over 14.1 million passengers flying through the facility.
The Triangle’s ability to land big business may depend on the airport’s ability to keep pace with the surging number of passenger traffic.
“This has been a milestone year for RDU,” Crystal Feldman, an RDU vice president, told WRAL News.
According to airport officials:
- The facility’s passenger volume was up 10.5 percent over last year;
- RDU added 23 new routes.
- The airport logged the its busiest month ever and the highest single day of passengers on Dec. 1 when 54,800 customers flew through RDU.
“We are growing so quickly and we are trying to keep pace with that growth,” Feldman said. “But we also ask customers to be patient.”
RDU passengers witnessed that growth in the form of traffic congestion and longer wait times at security check point lines.
But passengers are not the only ones watching.
As former Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane was finishing her last term in office, she noted that one factor many big companies consider when deciding whether or not to bring operations to the Triangle is the region’s airport capacity.
“We love our airport, but it doesn’t have as many direct flights,” she said.
RDU does have more than 60 non-stop destinations, and airport officials tout the other benefits.
“And we have five international destinations, and that is something companies look at,” Feldman said.
She added that the RDU Airport Authority says they want to grow those numbers.
“We want to build a new runway, hopefully in the very near future, and hopefully long enough (so) we can get to Asia,” Feldman said.
The other improvements touted by RDU officials include: New parking options, two new security checkpoints and high-speed WiFi.
Officials say a new ground transportation project is also in the works.
The airport’s growth has earned industry accolades.
Consumer research firm J.D. Power has elevated RDU from a medium sized airport to a large airport, and ranked it fifth in passenger satisfaction.