MORRISVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) – Bon voyage! Raleigh-Durham International Airport is kicking off a new nonstop flight to Paris Thursday.
Andrew Sawyer, an RDU spokesman said Paris may not be the final destination for local business travelers. The appeal will also be one-stop connections to India, Africa, the Middle East, and other European destinations.
“It shows that we have the interest and the connectivity to provide people, businesses with where they want to go in the world,” Sawyer said.
The new flights are being hailed by some local business leaders as a major economic opportunity.
“This additional flight to Europe is just what we need to net more industries and retain job growth,” Bob Geolas, CEO of the Research Triangle Park, said when the new flight was announced last October.
According to airport officials, an economist estimates the Paris flight will make a $25 million impact to the local economy and bring in 100 new jobs in the first year.
A longer term estimate is even larger. Economist Mike Walden says one international flight brings a dramatic boost. Over 25 years, Walden estimates a $1.4 billion benefit to the region’s Gross Domestic Product, the addition of 14,000 new jobs and $272 million in state and local taxes.
In case you are feeling adventurous, there are seats still available on Thursday night’s flight.
Delta Flight 230 to Charles de Gaulle Airport will depart at about 6 p.m. and arrive Friday morning. Delta Flight 231 departs Paris at 11:15 a.m. on Friday with an afternoon arrival at RDU.
The flight to Paris will take about eight hours; the return from France is expected to take around nine hours due to the wind.
The Delta website on Thursday advertised a one-way seat for $2,895.
An airport spokesman told CBS North Carolina that Thursday’s takeoff is about 10 years in the making. During that time, officials researched and made their pitch to various airlines as to why Raleigh would be a good place for a direct flight to Paris.
Michael Landguth, President and Chief Executive Officer of Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority, said in a statement,”Our community stepped forward to secure this new service. A public and private sector partnership with the Authority resulted in a $2.2 million, start-up risk mitigation package in support of the service.”
The Paris flights will be RDU’s second transatlantic journeys. The other is to London. This isn’t the first international flight to Paris from the Triangle. American Airlines did fly non-stop to Paris from the late 1980s until 1994, when the airline operated a hub here. It’s also how RDU became known as an “international airport.”
Success with the Paris flight may lead to more international travel from RDU, Sawyer told CBS North Carolina. “The next time we go have the conversation with the airlines about another international city or another international destination,” Sawyer said,”It makes those conversations with the airlines a lot easier and a lot more profitable.”
RDU officials say the airport is now the only airport of its size in the country to have two daily nonstop transatlantic flights.
Click here for an interactive map of the nonstop destinations from RDU Airport.