It's home to universities and technology companies, and now North Carolina's Research Triangle area wants a nonstop flight to China.
On Tuesday, Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU) hosted a symposium atDuke University for 100 state and local business, university and government leaders to discuss the benefits and challenges of a 7,000-mile nonstop flight to China, according to the Raleigh News & Observer.
The,Research Triangle Park was created in 1951 to increase innovation in the area. It is bordered by Duke University, North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
A nonstop flight from theRaleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU)would likely increase Chinese tourism and investments, as well as U.S. exports to China, according to Michael Walden, agriculture and economics professor at North Carolina State University.
"A direct flight would give North Carolina businesses easier access to China for promoting North Carolina products and services and evaluating the Chinese market," Walden wrote in WRAL TechWire, a Triangle-based technology publication. "This is important because China appears to be refocusing its economy by putting greater emphasis on household purchases of its rapidly expanding middle-class."
In 2017,air carriers added nine new routes from RDU, including a nonstop service to San Francisco through Alaska Airlines'Virgin America.
Last December, RDU Airport Authority CEOMichael Landguthsaid that it could take atleast three years, andprobably fivetoseven yearstoget direct service to China, according to the Triangle Business Journal.
Part of the plan is to build a runway thatwould be 11,500 feet long so that large heavy fuel-laden jets can safely take off in all weather.
One challenge is finding an airline willingto try the long-distance route,Bob Mann,of airport consulting firmR.W. Mann and Co.in Port Washington, New York, told China Daily.
"If there is going to be a carrier (flying RDU to China), it will be a Chinese carrier," Mann said. ``(But) it's a high threshold to clear to get an airline to serve Raleigh-Durham-to-China."
One possible Chinese carrier might be Hainan Airlines because it hasshown the "greatest innovation (of Chinese airlines) and intent to serve developmental markets, in part due to their use of the Boeing 787, a very efficient, smaller widebody aircraft," he said.
The U.S. and China don't have an "open skies" agreement so any new flight must be approved by both governments.