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Avelo Airlines moves to Terminal 1 at RDU airport

Avelo Airlines moves to Terminal 1 at RDU airport

An Avelo Airlines 737 parked at a gate at Raleigh-Durham International Airport’s Terminal 1. Avelo moved its RDU operations to the terminal on Feb. 16, 2023.

An Avelo Airlines 737 parked at a gate at Raleigh-Durham Global Airport’s Terminal 1. Avelo moved its RDU functions to the terminal on Feb. 16, 2023.

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Terminal 1, the smaller, quieter, less polished counterpart to Raleigh-Durham International Airport’s main terminal, is about to get busier.

Avelo Airlines, the discount carrier that made its RDU debut last spring, moved to Terminal 1 on Thursday, joining Southwest and Spirit airlines. The change comes as Avelo begins flying nonstop to six cities in Florida, in addition to its flights to Tweed-New Haven Airport in Connecticut, where the airline got its start.

The move will help ease crowding in Terminal 2. RDU’s main terminal now serves 11 airlines, including American and Delta, which together account for nearly 60{6932ee47e64f4ce8eedbbd5224581f6531cba18a35225771c06e4f1b3f0d9667} of the airport’s passengers. The newer, larger terminal handles all international flights and has a wider variety of shops and restaurants and a soaring ticket hall and undulating roof that are RDU’s dominant public image.

But Greg Baden, Avelo’s chief operating officer, says he welcomes the shift to the smaller terminal. Speaking on an Avelo 737 parked at a Terminal 1 gate on Wednesday, Baden said a big, impressive building means less to travelers than getting from the front door and through security smoothly.

“What makes airports cool for most travelers is how quick, easy and convenient they can get from the curb to the gate and get on the airplane,” Baden said. “The whole convenience of curb to gate is going to be much improved over here, which is why I like it. It kind of fits with who we are.”

Avelo expects to operate about 25 flights a week out of Terminal 1. The airline is basing one of its 737s at RDU and has hired more than 50 people locally, including pilots, flight attendants, aircraft technicians and gate agents.

“Because of our out-and-back network, we bring our airplanes home every night,” Baden said. “So we’ll have very efficient schedules for our pilots and flight attendants, so they can be home every night. They’ll be sleeping in their own beds, on their same body clock. It’s much healthier.”

Avelo Airways joined Southwest and Spirit airways in Terminal 1 at Raleigh-Durham International Airport. Richard Stradling [email protected]

More change coming to Terminal 1

Terminal 1 was known as Terminal A when it opened in 1982. For a time, it housed most of the airlines doing business at RDU, while American operated a hub out of Terminal C. After American closed the hub, its building was demolished and replaced by Terminal 2, which opened in 2008.

Only Southwest Airlines remained in the renamed Terminal 1, which was reduced to nine gates, including four that were mothballed. RDU reopened those gates and installed new jet bridges, ticket counters and baggage handling space and equipment before Spirit Airlines moved over from Terminal 2 last spring.

More changes are likely for Terminal 1 in the coming years. Bill Sandifer, RDU’s chief development officer, says to keep up with demand the airport will need to add six to eight gates to Terminal 1 by 2030, with more space for ticketing and security and better connections to the parking decks. Construction would need to begin in 2026 or 2027, he said.

RDU also plans to add gates to Terminal 2, where airlines can use anywhere between 29 and 33 at a time depending on the size of their planes. But there won’t be room for new gates there until the airport completes a new main runway and converts the existing one to a taxiway. That work likely won’t be completed until 2030, Sandifer said.

More than 11.8 million passengers passed through RDU last year, about 17{6932ee47e64f4ce8eedbbd5224581f6531cba18a35225771c06e4f1b3f0d9667} fewer than than the previous peak in 2019. But airport officials expect business will match pre-pandemic levels this year and grow to 21 million in 2033.

This tale was originally revealed February 16, 2023, 2:50 PM.

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Richard Stradling addresses transportation for The News & Observer. Planes, trains and automobiles, in addition ferries, bicycles, scooters and just basic walking. Also, hospitals through the coronavirus outbreak. He’s been a reporter or editor for 35 many years, which include the last 23 at The N&O. 919-829-4739, [email protected].