MORRISVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) – Raleigh and Reykjavík, Iceland, just got a whole lot closer, thanks to a new non-stop flight out of Raleigh-Durham International Airport.

Icelandair launched its inaugural flight out of RDU Thursday night with a celebration by airline and airport officials.

Icelandair’s presence at RDU marks a significant milestone in attracting more international flights. 

It’s the first non-stop transatlantic flight from RDU since the COVID-19 pandemic began. 

“It’s a clear sign that we are reaching some kind of a normalcy now,” Icelandair CEO Bogi Nils Bogason said. “It’s just a great feeling.”

Icelandair is just a start to many more expansions this year.

The airport plans to return nonstop service to Montreal, London and Paris, as well as major U.S. airlines such as Frontier and Spirit expanding their networks out of Raleigh.

“In 2022, we felt that the international service was going to be something of a significant demand,” Michael Landguth, the CEO of Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority said. “And with some of our other services kind of lacking, to be able to pull something like Icelandair in here, and provide that nonstop service, is an incredible pick up for our airport.”

RDU also plans to bring in a 13th airline this month, Avelo Airlines, with nonstop service to Connecticut.

Icelandair has chosen the Triangle to be its first new North American destination since the pandemic started.

Its communications manager, Michael Raucheisen, said it chose the Triangle because of its fast-growing population and access to education and international businesses.

“The demand has been equivalent to a gateway that we’ve already been flying from for years, so it’s very promising. We see a very bright future here,” Raucheisen said.

The seasonal route will include flights to Iceland four times per week from May through October on a 160-seat Boeing 737MAX 8.