Morrisville, N.C. — The latest expansion project for the Raleigh-Durham International Airport left the runway Sunday, sending off the first departures from its state-of-the-art new concourse.
The opening of the south concourse of Terminal 2, the airport's largest construction project to date, completed the nine-year, $570 million investment.
The open, sunlit Concourse D is the new home of Continental Airlines and U.S. Airways. It will also add 17 gates and 13 restaurants and shops, including Carolina Vintages wine shop and Five Guys Burgers, to the terminal.
American, Delta and United airlines moved in to Terminal 2's north concourse in October 2008. The terminal now has a 10-lane security checkpoint and a total of 36 gates.
WRAL News spoke with passengers traveling Sunday who admired the sleek, modern-looking terminal.
"I would say sophisticated. Sophisticated and very welcoming at the same time," said Sara Clark.
Samar Ellison commented on the "impressive selection" of restaurants and shops.
"I like the variety," Ellison said.
Passenger Shelli Vinturella said she thought the terminal was "beautiful."
"When you walk in, you don't feel like you're in an airport, and I think that's kind of cool," she said.
The construction project was completed a month ahead of schedule, just in time for the NHL All-Star Game, which was awarded to Raleigh last summer. The game will be played at the RBC Center Jan. 30.
RDU spokeswoman Mindy Hamlin said Friday that Terminal 2 marks a major milestone in the airport's growth.
"This terminal can support 11.4 million passengers. This puts us in a good position for the next 30 to 35 years," she said.
The airport had more than 8.3 million arriving and departing passengers during the first 11 months of 2010.