RDU officials hopeful Apple’s expansion to Raleigh will boost business air travel

Wake County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Apple announced on Monday morning the company plans to build a new campus in Raleigh.

Officials at Raleigh-Durham International Airport are hopeful this expansion will lead to a boost in business air travel to the Triangle.

“We could certainly see more passengers as a result of Research Triangle Park (RTP) continuing to grow with announcements like the one Apple made today,” said Stephanie Hawco, director of media relations at RDU.

Hawco said leisure travel has been up slightly recently, and they are hoping that Apple’s expansion will help boost business travel as well.

Apple’s headquarters is located in the San Francisco area. Next month, JetBlue will begin offering direct service flights from RDU to San Francisco. United will begin offering a direct flight to San Francisco in June.

Hawco said this will help bring more business traffic to Raleigh. Apple also has a campus in Austin. Multiple airlines offer flights from RDU to Austin, as well.

Hawco said the last year has been difficult for RDU as the airport only saw 5 million passengers come through in 2020. That is only 35 percent of the 14 million passengers who came through RDU in 2019. She said 2020 saw the lowest passenger traffic at RDU since 1987.

“Last year was a tough year, but we’re on the mend now,” Hawco said. “As companies come back to work, we would like to see them start flying again. That would really help us increase our passenger traffic here.”

Hawco said its still too early to tell what overall impact Apple’s expansion or the arrival of Google will have on passenger air travel. She said they are also not sure if more airlines will add more destination locations.

However, she said RDU is on the right track.

“Airlines are very interested in this market. It’s very competitive,” Hawco said. “We’re on the right path right now, but we have a lot of growing to do.”

Hawco said it could take RDU five to six years to full recover from the loss in revenue from last year.

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