The Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority pledged Monday to spend $2.1 million in first-year incentives – and urged Triangle government and civic leaders to match the investment – in a new push to attract more international flights to the region.
With Paris and Frankfurt cited as primary destination targets, RDU leaders said they would waive landing fees, rents and customs processing costs worth $1.6 million for the first year of new international service. An additional $500,000 worth of support would come in marketing campaigns to promote the new flight.
RDU has expanded nonstop service to the West Coast in the past two years and has enjoyed 20 years of success with its American Airlines flight to London, but it has struggled to land a second overseas connection. Delta announced a Paris flight in the fall of 2008 but changed its mind a few weeks later.
At an RDU-sponsored aviation symposium Monday in Research Triangle Park, N.C. State University economists presented the results of a study that said the Triangle region could expect to see $25 million in new spending and the creation of 100 new jobs in the first year of new international air service.
“This is no different from any other economic development prospect that would come into town and create jobs,” Teresa Damiano, RDU vice president for community affairs, said in an interview.
Damiano said 1.5 million people fly between RDU and international destinations each year, with more than half of them traveling to Europe. Direct flights to Paris or Frankfurt would provide better connections than travelers now get through London to other popular RDU destinations in India and Southeast Asia, she said.
Local governments, chambers of commerce and other groups will be asked to lend financial support that could come in the form of revenue guarantees that would protect an airline from disappointing ticket sales in the first year, Damiano said.