It's been about three years since RDU broke out the water cannons.
Tomorrow morning, officials at Raleigh-Durham International Airport will hold a ceremony to mark the return of Midwest Airlines. That will include a water cannon salute on the runway as the first Midwest flight arrives from Milwaukee shortly after 10 a.m.
Given the recession, and more carriers cutting flights than adding them during the past few years, the last water cannon salute for a plane at RDU was probably in 2007, said RDU spokeswoman Mindy Hamlin. In fact, it was likely for Midwest, which restarted service to RDU that year after stopping it following the 2001 terrorist attacks.
"Typically, it's saved for when a new airline starts service or there's a major new destination added," Hamlin said.
The Milwaukee-based carrier again cut service at RDU in September 2008 as the economy slumped and fuel prices surged. Then last November, Midwest announced it would resume two daily nonstop flights between RDU and Milwaukee on April 1.
The move comes as other carriers also expand service at RDU. JetBlue will expand its service to Boston on May 1, with three flights instead of one, and Southwest is scheduled to begin its service to St. Louis on May 9.
In June, Delta will resume nonstop service between RDU and Los Angeles. Delta offered a nonstop flight between the two cities from June 2006 to January 2008 but discontinued it because of rising fuel costs.