Icelandair says business from Raleigh-Durham International Airport has been so good that it plans to keep flying nonstop from the Triangle well into the winter.
Icelandair began flying four times a week between RDU and Keflavik, the airport outside Iceland’s capital Reykjavik, in May. At the time, the airline said the service was seasonal and would run through the end of October.
Now Icelandair says it will continue to fly four days a week through Jan. 7, making it easier for Triangle residents to see the northern lights that enliven Iceland’s long winter nights.
Michael Landguth, RDU’s president and CEO, announced the service extension Thursday.
“We’re very pleased the Iceland route has been very successful,” Landguth said.
When Icelandair launched its RDU service, president and CEO Bogi Nils Bogason said the airline’s strategy with a new destination was to begin with seasonal service and gradually expand to year-around, if demand warrants.
The carrier now flies to and from RDU on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Starting in November, the days of the week will shift to Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
RDU is one of 15 North American airports that Icelandair serves. The airline says Iceland is the destination for about half of its customers, while the rest are catching connecting flights to Europe. The airline encourages people to do both, by allowing for layovers of up to seven days in Iceland on one ticket.
Triangle travelers also have two nonstop options to Europe that resumed this summer. American Airlines resumed daily nonstop flights to London’s Heathrow Airport in June, and this month Delta Air Lines restarted its nonstop service to Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, with four flights a week.
RDU helped persuade Icelandair to come to the Triangle with an incentive program designed to recruit more international flights. The program waived several airline fees, up to $250,000 a year per route for two years, and provided an additional $25,000 to promote a new flight. The incentives applied to nonstop flights of at least 1,611 miles, and Icelandair was the only taker.
RDU continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, which devastated air travel world wide. Just over 1.1 million passengers passed through the airport in July, a new high since the pandemic began but still just 81% of the business RDU did the same month in 2019.
This story was originally published August 18, 2022 2:27 PM.
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