Local News

Charter Flights Soaring Out Of RDU

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RDU INTERNATIONAL — It is no secret that recent events have hurt business for commercial airlines. However the opposite is true for those who operate private planes.

Charter planes are taking off and the waiting room is full in the General Aviation terminals at RDU International.

"It's easy. You park right out front, hop on the plane and get there as opposed to the long waits at the other airports," said Gretchen Van DeCarr, a business traveler taking a charter flight to Philadelphia.

Convenience and safety are two of the reasons cited for an increase in private air travel since Sept 11.

"The one that just left earlier, they're running a shuttle between here and Philadelphia. They were running two flights prior and they're up to four flights a day now," according to David Lussier, general manager of Piedmont-Hawthorne.

Piedmont-Hawthorne, which handles fuel, catering and storage for private planes at RDU, has seen a 20 percent increase in arrivals and departures in recent weeks; its charters are up 50 percent.

Officials there say that companies that own their own planes are using them more, and companies that can afford to charter planes are doing so more often. The biggest increase is with companies that are sharing ownership in a plane.

It is not just companies that are using more private planes. Individual families are, too. A small twin-engine plane can go for as little as $400 an hour.

Even if it is not cost-effective, recent events are reason enough for some people to dig deeper to fly.

General Aviation is separate from the main terminals at RDU. It is located near park and ride lot 4.


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