Delta Air Lines continues to expand its service at Raleigh-Durham International Airport, with plans to add nonstop flights to five new destinations Nov. 1.
The carrier announced Wednesday that it will add service to Columbus, Ohio; Hartford, Conn.; Orlando and Tampa, Fla.; and St. Louis. It also will increase its daily departures to Minneapolis/St. Paul, Boston and New York.
Many of the new routes were destinations that had been dropped by American Airlines, which was once RDU's busiest carrier. "All cities across the country have been suffering from the loss of capacity" during the economic downturn, said Teresa Damiano, Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority's director of marketing.
More recently, Delta has been adding flights, and "saw an opportunity in a strong market."
About 96,000 passengers flew between RDU and Hartford last year, but there is no longer a nonstop flight, for example.
The new Delta flights will mean about a 4 percent increase in seats for RDU. "That's good for the consumer and prices, it's good for the airport, and it's good for the local economy in general," Damiano said.
RDU pushing for Austin
Economic developers say that increasing the number of nonstop destinations from RDU is a key tool for attracting businesses to this region. RDU officials are working to persuade a carrier to add Austin, Texas, as a nonstop destination, Damiano said. Like the Triangle, that city is known as a hub for biotech and tech activity.
Delta is the largest carrier at RDU, handling 24 percent of flights last year. It marked its 40th anniversary at RDU in June. That month, the carrier also resumed nonstop flights between RDU and Los Angeles.
The expansion comes as American Airlines continues to pare back. On Sept. 6, sister carrier American Eagle will suspend its five nonstop daily flights to Boston.
And in November, American will reduce the frequency of its nonstops from RDU to New York's JFK.
With the new flights inNovember, Delta will serve 15 nonstop destinations from RDU.
Delta is adding flights across the country and on international routes, as it bets that business travel will continue to rebound as the economy recovers.
Delta, which is based in Atlanta, announced last week that it will recall furloughed flight attendants in January and plans to fill 1,000 jobs at its 25 biggest U.S. airports to handle fuller flights.
"Raleigh-Durham is an important market for Delta, and we continue to focus on connecting the city to more destinations to meet customer demand for service," said Jeff Robertson, Delta's vice president for SkyMiles, in a statement.
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