US major Delta Air Lines will introduce a second transatlantic link to Europe from Raleigh–Durham International Airport, the main airport serving the Research Triangle region of North Carolina. The new route to Paris will commence in May 2016 and will supplement the existing London route operated by rival carrier, American Airlines.
The daily flight will launch on May 12, 2016 and will be operated using a 164-seat Boeing 757-200ER in conjunction with the airline's joint venture partners Air France, KLM and Alitalia. Alongside the point-to-point demand, the flight will also offer additional connection opportunities for US travellers via Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport in the French capital and the network’s of its SkyTeam partner carriers which will offer links to more than 75 onward destinations throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
"The Research Triangle is an important market for Delta, and our new Paris flight is the latest in a series of Delta investments in the region, both at the airport and in the community," said Bob Somers, vice president – global sales, Delta Air Lines. "For business or leisure, we look forward to serving our customers across the Atlantic as we strengthen our relationship with the region, and the region's ties to the world."
Raleigh–Durham International Airport will be the 13th US point linked to SkyTeam’s Paris hub and represents a major development from the carrier which has served the facility for more than 40 years and during which time has increased its presence to meet the demand.
A public/private partnership between local governments and the business community has committed $1.1 million to support the flight: the Airport Authority is providing $1.25 million in fee waivers and $500,000 in marketing funds. However, they anticipate significant economic gains for the region and state from the new link.
In 2014, N.C. State Economist Michael Walden determined that the economic impact of one international flight would result in an additional $25 million in net economic spending in the Triangle and create 100 new jobs within the first year. Over a 25 year period, the impact of one international flight will boost the region’s GDP by $1.4 billion, add 14,000 new jobs and contribute $272 million to public entities, he noted.
The value of air service development to the region was echoed by Bob Geolas, chief executive officer and president of the Research Triangle Foundation who noted the future of businesses in the region is intertwined with developments at Raleigh–Durham International Airport
"Air service development, particularly international service, is a key element in the competitiveness and growth of the Research Triangle Park. Global collaboration and face-to-face communication supports research and opens economic development doors worldwide for the Park, our region and the state," he said.
American Airlines currently provides the most convenient link to Europe for many businesses within the Research Triangle and residents of Durham, Raleigh and North Carolina through its daily flight to London. Previously operated to Gatwick Airport using a 777, the route was switched to Heathrow Airport in March 2008 and is currently flown using a 767-300ER.
Our analysis of Sabre Airport Data Intelligence demand statistics shows that an estimated 295,000 bi-directional O&D passengers flew between Raleigh–Durham International Airport and destinations across Europe in 2014. London Heathrow is unsurprisingly the largest point-to-point market with a 22.0 per cent share, but Paris Charles de Gaulle is the second largest market (Around 20,000 passengers; 7.0 per cent share), followed by Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Rome, Copenhagen, Barcelona, Dublin, Zurich and Brussels.
Alongside the new link, Delta has also outlined a growth in capacity for its New York – Tel Aviv route for summer 2016 and the deployment of a larger aircraft on its New York – Shannon route to meet increasing passenger demand.
The US carrier will add four weekly year-round flights between its New York John F Kennedy International Airport hub and Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport from May 26, 2016 using a 291-seat 777-200ER. The additional flights will complement Delta's existing daily service to Tel Aviv for a total of eleven weekly flights between the two cities.
"From next summer, Delta will offer more than 2,300 extra seats between Tel Aviv and New York, one of our largest Transatlantic markets, responding to customer demand for increased nonstop service," said Nat Pieper, senior vice president – Europe, Middle East and Africa, Delta Air Lines.
In the Irish market Delta will be introducing a larger widebodied Boeing 767-300 aircraft on its summer New York – Shannon service, resulting in a 25 per cent increase in capacity, or 17,000 additional seats.
Welcoming the announcement, Neil Pakey, CEO, Shannon Group plc said: “This is excellent news for passengers from this region who want to fly to JFK and beyond but is also excellent news again for the tourism industry here.”
Transatlantic services at Shannon have grown year-on-year since the airport was made independent in 2013 and this latest boost by Delta is further evidence of the strength of that market. “There has been a considerable transatlantic market rebound generally over recent years but there is a particular demand for services directly into the west of Ireland through Shannon and we are delighted to be able to facilitate this through airline partners such as Delta,” he added.