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Weak economy could delay projects at RDU

Posted November 20, 2008
Updated November 21, 2008

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— The economy could leave some projects at Raleigh/Durham International Airport struggling to get off the ground.

In October, the first phase of the $570 million Terminal 2 was completed. Its 550,000 square-foot north concourse has 19 gates and houses American Airlines, Delta, United and Air Canada.

“We have a nice first impression to make to people and a very positive lasting impression when they leave,” Raleigh-Durham International Airport spokesman Andrew Sawyer said.

Airport officials predict that the terminal will get heavy use, despite global economic uncertainty. RDU has seen a 2 percent drop in the number of passengers this year, according to a report released Thursday. 

The struggling economy won't affect the completion of Terminal 2, but could delay  renovations to Terminal 1 – formerly Terminal A – by at least two years, airport officials said.

“We would probably spend $250 million to $300 million on that facility, even in a renovation plan, to bring it up to a standard that would be similar to Terminal 2,” said Michael Weeks,  Raleigh-Durham International Airport Authority Chairman.

Terminal 1 will continue to operate as a passenger facility. However, if the money isn't there to bring the building up to par once Terminal 2 is completed, the Airport Authority does have a contingency plan.

“Terminal 1 could be mothballed if the economy really got to that state, to cut back on cost. But we certainly hope that's not one of the options we're faced with right now,” Weeks said.

Weeks said eventually Terminal 2 will be equipped to handle about 11 million passengers a year. Other airlines will move, including Continental and US Airways, when the south concourse is completed in 2011, adding 13 gates.

“Terminal 2 is going to be RDU's primary terminal – it already is. It's a key piece of our transportation infrastructure for the region and it's built for future growth,” Sawyer said.

Terminal 2 replaces the red-roofed Terminal C, which was built as a hub for American Airlines in 1987 and demolished as its replacement was built.

Blue-walled Terminal A was renamed Terminal 1 to bring RDU's naming practices in line with other airports. RDU passengers had often been confused by the lack of "Terminal B," which disappeared in the early 1990s when it became an extension of Terminal A.

6 Comments

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  • GALNC Nov 21, 5:18 p.m.

    ncwebguy -- Yes people have moved in, but most businesses have cut back on travel.. I traveled out of RDU weekly for the first 6 months of this year. I don't care what the terminals look like..only that I can get a flight out and it doesn't get cancelled. Routes are based on the number of passengers not how the airport looks. The routes you mention are major hubs and will always be connectors. The only changes will be the airlines and how they partner to other sites to cut costs. After American pulled their hub out of RDU,the airport has continued to spiral downward. Most companies are cutting back on air travel...not increasing travel expenses. I look at the airport from when I traveled here in the mid - late 80's and then it was Mayberry with the one terminal. It doesn't matter what the terminal looks like, look at the financial reports for each of the airlines and find out what their expansion plans are.... You will find that they are looking to cut costs, not grow.

  • PaulRevere Nov 21, 11:35 a.m.

    I know how to fix it! Raise taxes, parking fees, and toll the road going into RDU!

  • ncwebguy Nov 21, 11:05 a.m.

    This *rennovation* (not expansion) is to attract new routes *through* RDU in addition *to* it. Years of neglect have taken its toll on the airport... Terminal 1 looks like it should drop RDU and just say it serves Mayberry RFD.

    The slowing/weakening economy has airlines looking for cheaper east coast alternatives to NYC/DC/Boston/Miami, and airports not tied to one carrier -- Charlotte/US Air and Atlanta/Delta.

    A lot of people have moved into the area the last ten years or so, as have businesses. Just because you haven't seen all the change does not mean it did not happen.

  • GALNC Nov 21, 10:37 a.m.

    the airline industry is in turmoil and has been for the past few years...why was this project even started. We can't build buildings to sit empty...what are the flight stats for inbound/outbound flights for the past 6 months versus the time when they did the projections to support the new expansion. It doesn't make sense to expand when the airlines are going out of business. Yes, we need to sustain the economy, but this is a folly to build a building that won't be used...similar to the Roanoke Rapids Theatre...only missing Randy Parton.

  • wildervb Nov 21, 8:30 a.m.

    Print the money, continue the renovation, we have to keep this economy moving.

  • Iworkforaliving Nov 21, 7:11 a.m.

    good