RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Raleigh-Durham International Airport officials are anxiously awaiting a big decision from the federal government that'll eventually increase capacity, and the decision is coming as RDU is seeing demand soar.
Jacki Mullen is welcoming the hustle and bustle at packed airports these days, making up for lost time during COVID.
Mullen has already been on four trips this year and is heading to Puerto Rico this weekend. She has a few more vacations on tap this summer.
"I want to explore, why not? We were in the house for long. We didn't get a chance to explore," said Mullen.
RDU Spokesperson Stephanie Hawco said the airport has consistently been breaking records this year.
There are plans to expand to meet the growing demand and one of the first steps is replacing the current runway.
"We've been going through the environmental process with the FAA. Hope to get a ruling on that soon and potentially break ground this year and that's huge. That's the biggest capital project that we'll undertake here at the airport," said Hawco.
Once RDU receives a green light, construction of a new runway could take about five years, and then after that additional gates will be built to serve more travelers.
"The demand is huge right now. It's only getting more and more intense, and we will continue to do everything we can to meet that," said Hawco. "We've done a lot already this year with 20 new cities and 35 new routes."
To make sure there's enough parking to meet all this expansion, RDU is planning to more than triple the total number of parking spaces at the Economy 3 lot.
The change will help people who now find themselves circling lots.
"(We searched) about 20 minutes," said traveler Martha McLawhorn. "We got the last spot."
Airport officials are expecting this weekend to be busy for Memorial Day and suggest booking a parking spot in advance on their website.