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RDU's new terminal nears takeoff

Posted June 18, 2008

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— Raleigh-Durham International Airport showed off progress on its new terminal Wednesday as the $570 million project taxis through its final weeks before an expected takeoff this fall.

The north concourse of the new Terminal 2, which supplants the red-roofed Terminal C, will feature 19 gates, seven security checkpoint lanes and 26 shops and restaurants in 550,000 square feet. The south concourse will add 13 gates, another seven security lanes and 17 more retailers when it opens in early 2011.

Some of the merchants expected in the new terminal are 42nd Street Oyster Bar, Carolina Ale House, A Southern Season, Brooks Brothers and Apple iPod.

Terminal C was built in 1987 as a hub for American Airlines and was designed primarily for passengers changing planes. With the demise of American's hub, however, officials said fewer than 5 percent of RDU's passengers now change planes at the airport.

So, the new Terminal 2 has been designed to move passengers quickly and easily to and from their gates. The open interior combines wood trusses with steel and glass walls. Ticketing kiosks will allow passengers to check in for any airline from a single location.

American, American Eagle, Delta, United, Midwest Connect and Air Canada will initially fly out of the terminal. Continental, Northwest and US Airways will move to Terminal 2 when the south concourse opens.

Beneath the passenger areas, a state-of-the-art baggage sorting and handling system will be able to process up to 1,600 pieces of luggage an hour, including screening them for explosives.

“Terminal 2 has been 20 years in the making,” Teresa Damiano, RDU's director of marketing and customer service, said in a statement. “Our customers tell us that what they love most about RDU is convenience. With Terminal 2, the Airport Authority takes convenience to the next level with the latest in airport design and innovation.”

When finished, Terminal 2 will be three times the size of Terminal C and and will accommodate about 11.4 million passengers a year, officials said. About 10 million passengers used RDU last year.

Despite the slowing economy and cuts in service announced by several airlines, RDU officials are confident the terminal will pay off in the long run, spokeswoman Mindy Hamlin said.

"We are lucky. We serve a region that is very dynamic and has done very well. Our growth here at the airport is dependent on the growth of our region," Hamlin said. "We know that, just like other airports around the country, we may see some (economic) impact.

"Luckily, we are building a terminal that meets current demand and will position us for the future, but we have been very conservative on the growth percentage that we are looking forward to in future years."

Terminal C will be demolished as Terminal 2 is completed, and the blue-walled Terminal A will be renamed Terminal 1. Damiano said the name change is in line with how other airports label their terminals and also addresses the sometimes confusing lack of a "Terminal B" at RDU since the early 1990s, when it became an extension on the north end of Terminal A.


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  • Travised Jun 19, 2008

    There was an ongoing joke that MSP was always under construction. It took them forever to get the parking ramps finished, and the work inside the airport was seemingly always going on. If it wasn't that it was runway expansion of the addition of the LRT. The moving walkways really helped now that all that is left is a few shops and adjustments of interior walls; last I was there.

    MCO I disliked in general.

    Personally I really like the layout of RDU how I have dealt with it in the past. No complaints. The improvements should be nice to see.

  • NeverSurrender Jun 19, 2008

    "I actually went through the new T5 at Heathrow about two weeks after it opened and had only one minor issue. Heathrow may be big but it's labeled very clearly and pretty easy to figure out (and I'm not a frequent flier). I still prefer it over JFK anyday."


    JFK is slowly renovating the abysmal terminals but putting lipstick on the pig doesn't save it from the fact that it's located at the epicentre of the worst ATC congestion on the planet. JFK, LFA, and EWR all within fifteen minutes of each other means a lot of tin being pushed through the air...all it takes is one wx event to royally screw things up.

    Heathrow's problem (IMO) is that it's far from the London city centre and still only has two primary runways. When that BA 777 belly-flopped, it took Heathrow over 24 hours to recover (busiest airport in Europe).

    Personally, give me Gatwick any day. Heck, even Stansted or Luton... but sadly, the "prestige" is flying LHR and the BAA knows it... :)

  • uncbabie Jun 18, 2008

    All of you who are criticizing the improvement must not fly often. There are many, many, people who's lively hood depends on getting out of RDU on Monday and back in on Friday.

  • YeahWhatever Jun 18, 2008

    One point that no one has made: Airport operations are entirely funded by gate revenue and concession rent.

    You tax dollars are not being used. Get over it.

  • Mad Baumer Jun 18, 2008

    Airports bring visitors. Visitors bring revenue. Revenue builds and repairs roads. Don't be scared of progress, welcome it with open wallets............

  • SteamTrain Jun 18, 2008

    I sure hope that they don't mean that the kiosks are in a single location. If so...it better be massive...or it will be a miserable choke point.

  • GeorgiaPeach70 Jun 18, 2008

    Okay, yeah...this makes perfect sense...Lets go and spend $570 million dollars on tearing down and repairing an airport road instead of fixing the more important roads. Yeah, perfect sense, all this shows is how this state poorly manages the state finances. North Carolina needs to get their priorities in order and fix what needs to be fixed! I was driving down a public road in Raleigh just the other day and it was like driving down a dirt road in the mountains of Georgia! FIX OUR ROADS NOT OUR AIRPORT!!!!!!!!

  • Trivr Jun 18, 2008

    Tearing down terminal C when it was only 20 years old sounded like a case of poor planning. This article makes clear why it was done. Look forward to the change!

  • ncsu2000 Jun 18, 2008

    I agree keithcal. I've flown through JFK twice and I will never do it again. Worst airport ever.

    I actually went through the new T5 at Heathrow about two weeks after it opened and had only one minor issue. Heathrow may be big but it's labeled very clearly and pretty easy to figure out (and I'm not a frequent flier). I still prefer it over JFK anyday.

  • WRALblows Jun 18, 2008

    This was a good investment. A $570 million dollar terminal when no one can afford to fly. Nice.