Virgin America is coming to Raleigh-Durham International Airport to offer the airport’s third daily nonstop flight to San Francisco.
Tickets already are available for Virgin America’s flights to and from San Francisco International Airport, which will begin on Oct. 19 and Oct. 20.
United Airlines has two nonstop daily flights that head to San Francisco in the early morning and afternoon. RDU spokesman Andrew Sawyer said the Virgin America addition would complement the existing flights because it will leave RDU mid-morning with a red eye return flight from San Francisco.
“Our strategy is to use the same philosophy that’s worked well for us in our Pacific Northwest hubs, which is to offer convenient, nonstop flights to the places guests fly to the most,” airline spokeswoman Ann Zaninovich said in an email. “RDU is a very desirable destination.”
About 200 people travel from RDU to San Francisco every day. But this does not include people who take a connecting flight through the city, Sawyer said.
“A lot of the United customers connect to Asia,” he said. “So this will give additional seats going to the Bay Area.”
Virgin America and its parent company, Alaska Airlines, will offer passengers 125 daily nonstop flights to 42 destinations from the three major Bay Area airports, Zaninovich said. Passengers also will have access to flights from more than 10 global airline partners that offer 137 international departures a week from the Bay Area.
Virgin America is known for its mood lighting on flights, and also offers wireless internet service and on-demand entertainment, including television, music and movies, according to the company’s website.
“Virgin is a very unique brand,” Sawyer said. “They are a pretty trendy airline. I think our passengers here are really going to love the service that they will have to provide.”
Virgin America becomes the 10th carrier to offer flights in and out of RDU. The new RDU flight is part of a larger expansion by Alaska Airlines and Virgin America in the Bay Area, where the airlines are adding 13 new nonstop flights from San Francisco and Mineta San Jose International Airport.
Also on Thursday, Delta Air Lines kicked off a daily nonstop flight from RDU to Austin, Texas, connecting the airport to what had been its largest market without a direct connection.
Austin becomes the 48th nonstop destination to and from RDU. The next-largest RDU destinations without direct flights are Kansas City, Mo., Portland, Ore., San Juan, Puerto Rico, San Diego and San Jose, Calif.
The new Austin service comes after a busy year for Delta, which kicked off four new daily nonstop flights from RDU in 2016 to Salt Lake City, Washington, D.C., Newark, N.J., and Paris. This summer, the Paris nonstop will be upgraded to a larger aircraft because of increased demand.
Kathryn Trogdon; 919-829-4845: @KTrogdon