Local News

RDU could shutter terminal

Posted January 30, 2009
Updated March 9, 2009

— Raleigh-Durham International Airport officials have floated the idea of closing its older terminal once the second phase of its new terminal opens up.

Closing the blue-walled Terminal 1 would save RDU money at a time when air traffic is down, spokeswoman Mindy Hamlin said.

Fewer flights could force RDU to close terminal Fewer flights could force RDU to close terminal

The airport opened the $570 million first phase of Terminal 2 last fall, replacing the 21-year-old red-roofed terminal that was originally built as a hub for American Airlines. The second phase of the project is scheduled to open in 2011.

Once complete, Terminal 2 will have 32 gates, and Hamlin said all of the airlines serving the region could be moved there. Southwest Airlines, JetBlue and AirTran were the only airlines projected to stay in the old terminal after Terminal 2 was completed.

"We have talked about what are we going to do when that (second part of) Terminal 2 opens in the winter of 2011," she said. "It is not out of the question for us to close Terminal 1 when phase two of Terminal 2 opens."

The recession has caused air travel to fall in recent months as airlines cut the number of daily flights. RDU reported 9.7 million passengers last year, a 3.1 percent drop from 2007, and Hamlin said the numbers aren't expected to top the 10-million mark again until the economy improves.

"We understand the aviation industry is cyclical. There have been a lot of changes made to schedules here at RDU and airports across the country," she said. "As we approach that (2011) opening, we will re-evaluate where we are as far as air service, demand, airlines (and) schedules, and we'll make a decision."

RDU also closed part of Terminal 1 – it was known as Terminal A at the time – in 1989 when Eastern Airlines went bankrupt and ceased operations. The terminal remained closed for five years until traffic through the airport picked up enough to warrant reopening the gates.

Another temporary shutdown of Terminal 1 also would give the airport the opportunity to start – and possibly complete – a planned overhaul of the facility to avoid disrupting traffic whenever it reopens, Hamlin said.

20 Comments

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  • tobis19341 Jan 30, 6:39 p.m.

    what is the big deal with these high dollar terminals. do we really need 5 star restaurants and high end shops in an airport. you're there an hour or two max (unless you're stuck b/c of a delay or lay over). all of these mega terminals are a waste of money. btw, i've fly out of RDU at least twice a month and this is by far the best airport in terms of friendliness and on time departures.

  • discowhale Jan 30, 6:33 p.m.

    I too can remember the chain link fence, corrugated steel roof walkway airport. That's what was here in the late 60's early 70's.

    I do think more of the cost of rebuilding, refurb'ing the airport should fall on the travelers. When I fly, I pay my share, and if the current fee is too low, raise it.

    "With luck the entire airport will shut down."

    Another mental midget!!! I don't use it, so we don't need it. There are those of us that feel that way about all the sports / basketball facilities around the state!

  • atc2 Jan 30, 3:27 p.m.

    TGW: You must travel once every 20 years. The people at the Northeast airports are very polite (at least they answer a question - hear you get a pathetic stare). Most of the rude people are at RDU and Charlotte (especially Charloooote).

    RDU needs to remove that ugly blue tin garbage can.

  • unc70 Jan 30, 3:23 p.m.

    The "original" part of the terminal included the tower and observation deck. Somewhat like a small version of the old Idlewilde (now JFK) in NY. Whatever else happens to the terminal, it would be nice if that small section could be retained for it historical and sentimental value. Would need a Piedmont DC-3 to complete the scene.

  • jeffdewitt Jan 30, 3:22 p.m.

    While traffic is down it makes perfect sense to me to close that terminal and use the opportunity to either refurbish it or replace it. Doing the work now while costs for materials are down and contractors are hungry for the work is the smart thing to do. Once the economy and traffic improves RDU will be ready to handle the increased traffic.

  • retroconsultant Jan 30, 3:21 p.m.

    "Close it and level it. It's an eyesore and layed out poorly." - atc2

    This comment was 100% on target.

    It never should have been built, was poorly designed, traffic flow is bad, probably the worst air terminal design in the country.

    When they said a terminal was being torn down and a new one built a couple of years ago, I couldn't believe this was not the one being torn down.

  • poorman Jan 30, 3:03 p.m.

    to rlfstop;You have my permission , you can MOVE where you are proud of.

  • tgw Jan 30, 2:53 p.m.

    Guys-I've scene airports all over the East Coast and some of the Mid West. At least , most of our employees at RDU are curteous. At somenorthern airports, the employess act like they could care less whether you are there or not. Union infuence

    I would imagine.

    Concerning facilities, terminal 1 needs some work-no doubt. As long as business stays slow, they could tear down terminal 1 and start the rebuild process. Business will not be as slow here as in other areas.

    Folks, we get customers from all over Eastern North Carolina and the world for that matter. First impressions are very important. This airport could help sway some hige business deals.

    Fix it up-now!!!

  • bigredtruckman Jan 30, 2:48 p.m.

    Thanks for the correction, Road-wearier. :-)

    That baggage claim just always looked SO old and outdated, even when I moved here in the mid 80s, I had assumed it was original to the building.

  • Road-wearier Jan 30, 2:34 p.m.

    Put 'em all in the new terminal. The old one is a dump. But the biggest embarrassment is just how slow the baggage service is in either terminal. I've flown into Mumbai, India and the bags come more quickly than they do here.

    Small point for Bigredtruckman - the brick walled baggage claim is not the original in Terminal A er Terminal 1...it was an add-on in the early 1980s. I remember when Terminal 1 was four chain link gates and there a stop sign at the end of the terminal drive at the road which ran between 70 and I-40...

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