The CEO of the Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority is anticipating an increase in summer leisure travel, disclosing today that American Airlines will offer a new nonstop flight from the RDU airport to Destin/Ft. Walton Beach, Florida, and new service to Orlando and Nashville beginning in early June.

“We are excited to offer a new nonstop flight to Florida and expand service to the popular Orlando and Nashville destinations just in time for summer vacations,” said Michael Landguth “American Airlines’ investment in RDU demonstrates the strength of the Research Triangle market and is further evidence that the airport is rebounding from the pandemic-driven downturn in passenger traffic.”

The news follows the recent addition of non-stop service to Austin, Texas.

With these three additional flights, the airport will now offer 39 nonstop routes, including a route that will open next month to Minneapolis/St. Paul that the airport announced in January.

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According to RDU, travelers have begun to return to the skies, including during the weeks on either side of the Easter holiday, after reaching new heights a few weeks prior.  According to the Authority, during Easter week, the volume of travelers originating a flight at RDU was the highest it had been since before March 2020.  Data from TSA showed that nationally, six million people went through airport security checkpoints during Easter Weekend, which set a record high for the prior 13 months.

American Airlines will begin Saturday service to Destin and Orlando from June 5 for the summer season, concluding the service after Aug. 14.  At the same time, the airline’s flight service to Nashville will be available Sunday through Friday, and will be year-round, starting on June 2.  These three new destinations follow American’s announcement last month that it will start daily nonstop service between Austin, Texas, and RDU on July 2.

“We are thrilled to strengthen our network in Raleigh-Durham as travelers begin to plan their summer vacations,” said Brian Znotins, American Airlines Vice President of Network Planning in a statement. “Whether they’re heading to Florida beaches, Nashville, or another destination we offer from RDU, we look forward to welcoming more local travelers to fly with us and further connecting them to our global network.”