Local News

RDU International a Busy Revolving Door

Posted June 20, 1999

— Raleigh-Durham International Airportwas a hub of activity Monday, with thousands of athletes and their fans coming and going.

As participants, organizers and fans of the1999 U.S. Openboarded planes to leave the area, the participants, coaches and family members involved in theSpecial Olympics World Summer Gamesarrived.

It was one of the airport's busiest days ever from an operations standpoint, and RDU spokesman Mike Blanton compares the volume to the heavy traffic normally seen the day before Thanksgiving.

The U.S. Openended in PinehurstSunday, and that sent many people to RDU to head home.

Meanwhile, 81 countries had delegations arriving Monday.

A welcome center was organized at the airport to offer first greetings to the Special Olympics athletes and give them welcome kits, cell phones and other paraphernalia they will need while in the area.

Monday morning, the delegation from Iceland was one of the first to arrive, full of smiles and ready to board the shuttle buses that take participants from the main terminals to the welcome area.

Next stop for all the visitors will be their host town, and from there they will meet the individual families who will be their direct contacts.

Given all the numbers at the airport, Monday could be regarded as a big test. Blanton says he is "hoping for an A+ all the way around, but even if we get a high B, that will be very good."

And if this day was busy, wait until Friday.

That is when Team USA arrives -- 2,000 Special Olympics World Games participants who will fly in on private planes. It has been dubbed the "World's Largest Peacetime Airlift."

Private planes do not use the same gates the commercial flights do, so the 2,000 visitors should not affect the terminals Friday.

But it will be another busy day for all RDU employees, and probably one for RDU record books.


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