New life planned for RDU's 'old' terminal

Posted March 9, 2012 9:49 p.m. EST
Updated March 9, 2012 11:11 p.m. EST

Terminal 1, formerly Terminal A, at Raleigh-Durham International Airport sits mostly empty and under utilized since the completion of the newer Terminal 2 just over a year ago. But its days of serving travelers are not over. The RDU Airport Authority is planning an upgrade, and the first signs of that were evident Friday.

Two temporary restaurants – a coffee shop and a casual dining spot – opened to much fanfare Friday.

For passengers like Carrie Morningstar, the food options are a big improvement in a terminal where amenities are few. "We hadn't been here in a long time," she said. "We thought they were going to tear it down. I mean, because it looks dead down there."

Artists' renderings show the plan for a space defined by natural light, with higher ceilings and new shops and eateries. Airport revenue will pay the estimated $68 million price tag. 

"It's a lot smaller project than Terminal 2 because the building is much smaller and it's a different environment," said Andrew Sawyer, marketing communications specialist at the airport. 

"Passengers will see a lot of improvement over what they knew in the old Terminal 1," he said.

Morningstar was happy to hear the old terminal was not being abandoned. "It's nice to know that it is not falling apart, that it really is going to be built up, so that's a good sign for our community," she said.

After the renovations are complete, Southwest Airlines will move to the updated part of Terminal 1.