RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Raleigh-Durham International Airport officials broke ground on a new half-billion-dollar runway Wednesday morning. Officials say the new runway will play a big role in bringing more flights to the Triangle.

Nearly 200 state and local leaders attended the ceremony celebrating the replacement of the nearly 40-year-old existing runway. Airport officials tell CBS 17 they’ve had to replace 275 slabs of concrete on the runway over the last four years at a price of around $30 million.

The runway replacement comes as the airport has added more than 20 new destinations and nearly 50 new flights this year alone. Airport authority president Michael Landguth said a new runway means keeping those flights and bringing more to town. He also spoke about the importance of keeping the current runway open while working on the new one.

“If we were to lose that runway and take it down for an extended period of time, you wind up losing your London service, your Paris service, international service and your West Coast service and I will tell you once you lose service like that, it is almost impossible to get it back,” Landguth said.

Airport officials say the runway should be finished by early 2028.