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Delta to begin RDU-Paris flight

Posted November 6, 2008

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— Delta Airlines will launch nonstop service between Raleigh-Durham International Airport and Paris next June, officials said Thursday.

The flights will leave the new Terminal 2 at RDU at 6:20 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and arrive at Charles de Gaulle International Airport in Paris the following mornings at 8:35 a.m., officials said.

Service will begin June 2, with an introductory price of $599 each way, officials said.

American Airlines offered nonstop service between RDU and Paris from 1988 to 1994 before dropping the flight in favor of service between the Triangle and London, which American continues to offer.

"This flight will be strategically important for North Carolina and the region," state Commerce Secretary Jim Fain said in a statement. "In addition to supporting two-way tourism, it will facilitate business relationships between North Carolina and France."

As part of a joint venture with Air France, Delta also plans to launch service between Pittsburgh and Paris next summer, officials said. Air France offers connections to 90 destinations across Europe and Asia.

Robert Cortelyou, a Delta senior vice president, said having Charles de Gaulle International serving as a European hub was critical to the decision to launch the two flights in a struggling economy.

"It's not just a Raleigh-to-Paris, local-market flight," Cortelyou said. "It's a Raleigh-to-Paris-to beyond (flight) – to Europe, the Middle East, to Africa, India. We have all that connectivity in Paris, and that's what makes it work."

The airline will use Boeing 757-200 aircraft for the routes, with seating for up to 174 passengers.

"I think this is a terrific piece of business for our community, and I think the community is going to gravitate to it and put it to good use," said Harvey Schmitt, president of the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce. "It's going to be here for a long time."

The first phase of the $570 million Terminal 2 opened last month with 19 gates and seven security checkpoints. The second phase is scheduled to add 13 gates by 2011.

The terminal replaces the red-roofed Terminal C, which was built as a hub for American Airlines in 1987 and demolished as its replacement was built.

Airport officials predict the new terminal will get heavy use, despite global economic uncertainty. In September, however, RDU saw an 8 percent drop in the number of passengers as airlines cut flights, raised fares and increased fees.

Carriers said advance bookings show their planes will be as full as or fuller than they were a year ago during the late fall and winter holidays.

Delta, for example, said advance domestic bookings are up, while international ones are down. American said its advance bookings are down about 2 percent, which the company said is a normal variation.


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  • Bob3425 Nov 7, 2008

    Don't plan to go to paris anytime soon, don't care.

  • mpheels Nov 6, 2008

    This route may also drive down the prices of other RDU-CDG tickets through NYC and DC. The introductory rate is comparable to existing itineraries, and will likely siphon off at least some passengers from other airlines. I'll gladly take the connection and layover in NYC if it saves me a few hundred dollars, and let those in a bigger hurry pay for the direct flight.

  • CestLaVie Nov 6, 2008

    J. Noble: maybe prices will be better off-season - a year from January-March, but definitely not next summer.

  • J. Noble Daggett Nov 6, 2008

    Folks- you need to get the bigger picture here....don't just think Paris- think Europe- because Paris is a central hub to other flights to other countries of course. You usually have to fly to NY or Atlanta to go to Europe. I think the price seems pretty steep- thats 1200 roundtrip- hope that comes down a bit with fuel prices dropping.

  • foetine Nov 6, 2008

    In that case, RDU isn't really in Durham or Raleigh. It's middle of not quite there.

  • FL380 Nov 6, 2008

    To those of you with range concerns... this will be an ETOPS 757-200 retrofitted with winglets to increase fuel economy and range. Several of these birds do transatlantic flights daily. They are fitted with the Delta Business Elite class seats in first/business so if you are flying business, it will be no different than a 767. The coach seats offer a few inches more of leg room and some are fitted with PTV in the seatbacks.

    The only benefit of a 767 on this route would be an increase in payload to increase cargo revenue. However, I don't think that the cargo payoff would offset the loss from empty seats.

    This is GREAT news for RDU and the area...

  • mpheels Nov 6, 2008

    "AA doesn't fly into Londan they fly to and from Heathrow"

    Heathrow is the primary airport serving London. If you want to nit-pick, then technically it's a suburb of London, but why nit-pick about silly things like that. Dulles airport is technically in Chantilly, VA but a flight to Dulles is a flight to DC for all practical purposes.

  • nuncvendetta Nov 6, 2008

    Only in North Carolina could I imagine so many folks complaining about a new nonstop international flight. Can we act a bit less backwoods every so often?

  • lb27608 Nov 6, 2008

    >It must be a 767-200. The 757s don't have that kind of range. Not unless they want to refuel at Gander, Reykjavik, and Shannon.

    It will be a 757-200 flight. The ER model of the 200 has plenty of range to go transatlantic from the East Coast.

  • iron fist Nov 6, 2008

    AA doesn't fly into Londan they fly to and from Heathrow