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Delta to begin RDU-Paris flight

Delta Airlines will launch nonstop service between Raleigh-Durham International Airport and Paris next June, officials said Thursday.

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MORRISVILLE, N.C. — Delta Airlines will launch nonstop service between Raleigh-Durham International Airport and Paris next June, officials said Thursday.

The flights will leave the new Terminal 2 at RDU at 6:20 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and arrive at Charles de Gaulle International Airport in Paris the following mornings at 8:35 a.m., officials said.

Service will begin June 2, with an introductory price of $599 each way, officials said.

American Airlines offered nonstop service between RDU and Paris from 1988 to 1994 before dropping the flight in favor of service between the Triangle and London, which American continues to offer.

"This flight will be strategically important for North Carolina and the region," state Commerce Secretary Jim Fain said in a statement. "In addition to supporting two-way tourism, it will facilitate business relationships between North Carolina and France."

As part of a joint venture with Air France, Delta also plans to launch service between Pittsburgh and Paris next summer, officials said. Air France offers connections to 90 destinations across Europe and Asia.

Robert Cortelyou, a Delta senior vice president, said having Charles de Gaulle International serving as a European hub was critical to the decision to launch the two flights in a struggling economy.

"It's not just a Raleigh-to-Paris, local-market flight," Cortelyou said. "It's a Raleigh-to-Paris-to beyond (flight) – to Europe, the Middle East, to Africa, India. We have all that connectivity in Paris, and that's what makes it work."

The airline will use Boeing 757-200 aircraft for the routes, with seating for up to 174 passengers.

"I think this is a terrific piece of business for our community, and I think the community is going to gravitate to it and put it to good use," said Harvey Schmitt, president of the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce. "It's going to be here for a long time."

The first phase of the $570 million Terminal 2 opened last month with 19 gates and seven security checkpoints. The second phase is scheduled to add 13 gates by 2011.

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

Airport officials predict the new terminal will get heavy use, despite global economic uncertainty. In September, however, RDU saw an 8 percent drop in the number of passengers as airlines cut flights, raised fares and increased fees.

Carriers said advance bookings show their planes will be as full as or fuller than they were a year ago during the late fall and winter holidays.

Delta, for example, said advance domestic bookings are up, while international ones are down. American said its advance bookings are down about 2 percent, which the company said is a normal variation.


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