Greetings RDU people. Barring an unforeseen better off from a Minneapolis based company, I will be moving to RDU at the end of this month. Anything new and interesting going on at the airport? Any solid rumors? My office will be about 10,000 feet from the end of the runway so I hope to be visiting on a somewhat regular basis. I can't wait to try out the observation tower.
First of all, welcome to the RDU area! We hope you enjoy the area, which is exploding in growth! As far as spotting at RDU, I recommend joining the Plane Spotting RDU page on Facebook, where you can connect with other spotters and people that always track anything worth checking out (special liveries, military ops, etc.). The observation park is a great place to hang out, although I usually spot from the top of the parking deck in-between the terminals (for $2/hour). We used to have another overlook for Runway 5R/23L inside the G.A. terminal, but has since been deemed all but off-limits to the general public.
Second, as far as airlines and destinations go, Via Airlines has said in a Triangle Business Journal (TBJ) article that three more destinations in addition to BHM will be added/announced from RDU by the end of the year, but so far no speculation has been made in regards to what destinations are being added. This is all we have above and beyond what has already been announced (F9, NK, AA to PHX, DL to MSY, ORD, and PIT; AC to YUL, and SW to AUS and SJC).
Frontier, Spirit, and Via are being courted to Terminal 1 as they prepare to activate four gates built at the end of the year. These gates were not connected to the baggage systems as part of the original forecasted needs of the airport by this time. So far, Frontier has all but confirmed that they will be moving to Terminal 1, with international operations obviously staying at Terminal 1. A United Club is confirmed to be in construction in Terminal 2 across from the D1/D3 gates. While it will definitely open in 2019, no official opening date has been established, although rumors are suggesting a July or August opening.
RDU is still continuing to try to court service to Asia (particularly China due to the dual-headquarters presence of Lenovo in nearby Morrisville and Beijing). Delta, in an TBJ article from last year, is still looking at ways to expand mainly in the domestic territory and they have no interest in serving Asia or India (at least on DL metal), and will focus on improving access to connections at existing hubs for international expansion. However, they made a comment that they are open to the idea of looking at another point in Europe for nonstop service (likely AMS or LHR if they can get the slots) depending on the continued success of the CDG flight.
The airport authority has recently sold land to the Wake Stone corporation in order to help finance the construction of the new 11,500 foot runway (although it has been suggested in another forum that this will be shortened to 10,000 feet coinciding the FAA's decision to shorten CLT's proposed 12,000 feet runway to 10,000 feet, but RDU and the FAA have not confirmed yet whether this is the case), with environmentalists not being happy with the decision (surprise, surprise). On the flip side, when excavation is done, the new quarry and an existing adjacent one should be turned into a biking/hiking trail.