Charlotte Douglas International Airport
USGS image, 2012
|Owner||City of Charlotte|
|Operator||Charlotte Aviation Department|
|Serves||Charlotte metropolitan area|
|Location||5501 Josh Birmingham Parkway|
Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S.
|Hub for||American Airlines|
|Elevation AMSL||748 ft / 228 m|
Charlotte Douglas International Airport (IATA: CLT, ICAO: KCLT, FAA LID: CLT) is a civil-military airport in Charlotte, North Carolina. Established in 1935 as Charlotte Municipal Airport, the airport received its current name in 1982. It is the second largest hub for American Airlines after Dallas/Fort Worth, with service to 178 domestic and international destinations.[failed verification]
As of 2019 it was the 11th busiest airport in the United States, ranked by passenger traffic and 5th by aircraft movements. It was the 6th busiest airport in the world ranked by aircraft movements[failed verification] The airport is a major gateway to the Caribbean Islands. CLT covers 5,558 acres (2,249 ha) of land.
The city received Works Progress Administration funding to establish Charlotte's first municipal airport; the airport was, at the time, the largest single WPA project, incorporating a terminal, hangar, beacon tower and three runways.
In 1936 Charlotte Municipal Airport opened, operated by the City of Charlotte; Eastern Air Lines began scheduled passenger service in 1937. The original passenger terminal still exists and is used for offices and training rooms by various Aviation-related organizations.
The United States Army Air Forces took control of the airport and established Charlotte Air Base in early 1941, which was renamed Morris Field soon after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The US military invested more than $5 million in airfield improvements by the time the facility was returned to the City of Charlotte in 1946. The airfield was used by the Third Air Force for antisubmarine patrols and training.
In 1954 a 70,000-square-foot (6,500 m2) passenger terminal opened and the airport was renamed Douglas Municipal Airport in honor of former Charlotte Mayor Ben Elbert Douglas, Sr., who had overseen the airport's opening 20 years earlier. The terminal had two floors; passenger operations were confined to the ground floor. Ticketing and baggage claim were on each side of an open space that bisected the building north to south, and a mezzanine restaurant and airline offices overlooked this open space. Delta Air Lines began scheduled passenger service in 1956. The OAG for April 1957 shows 57 weekday departures on Eastern, 7 Piedmont, 6 Capital, 4 Delta and 2 Southern. Nonstop flights did not reach beyond Newark, Pittsburgh, Columbus, Louisville, Birmingham, and Jacksonville.
A major renovation project in the late 1960s expanded the facility. Eastern opened a unit terminal in 1967, replacing the old west pier. This new facility had eight dedicated gates for Eastern, each with its own departure lounge, snack bar and separate baggage claim space. Eastern passengers continued to check in at the main terminal.
In 1969 a new enclosed concourse was built parallel to the center pier. When it was completed, Piedmont, Eastern, and Delta moved in and the old center pier was demolished. The new concourse had separate departure lounges, restrooms and an enlarged baggage claim area. United's flights continued to use the east pier, with an enclosed holding room added for waiting passengers. Eastern added two more gates to the end of its west concourse in 1973.
After airline deregulation, passenger numbers at the terminal nearly doubled between 1978 and 1980, and a new 10,000-foot (3,000 m) parallel runway and control tower opened in 1979. The airport's master plan called for a new terminal across the runway from the existing site, with ground broken in 1979. At the time, the airport had only two concourses: one used exclusively by Eastern, and one used by other carriers, including United, Delta, Piedmont, and several commuter airlines.
In 1979 Piedmont Airlines chose Charlotte as the hub for its expanding network. A new 325,000-square-foot (30,200 m2) passenger terminal designed by Odell Associates opened in 1982, and the airport was renamed Charlotte Douglas International Airport. Concourses B and C were expanded in 1987 and 1984 respectively, while Concourse A was built in 1986 to handle future growth
In 1987 Piedmont started non-stop 767 flights to London. In the mid-1980s the old terminal site was converted to a cargo center, and the central concourse and Eastern unit terminal were removed to make way for more cargo buildings. The original main building still stands and is used for office space. The old control tower was removed in the late 1990s. In 1989 Piedmont merged with USAir; the new merged operations kept the USAir name.
In 1990, a new 80,000-square-foot (7,400 m2) international and commuter concourse (Concourse D) opened, and in 1991 further expansion of the central terminal building continued, reflective of USAir's dominating presence at the airport. A monumental bronze statue of Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (the namesake of the city), created by Raymond Kaskey, was placed in front of the main terminal.
In 1990 Lufthansa began Boeing 747 service to Germany; this service ended shortly thereafter. In 1994 British Airways began service to London via a "global alliance" with USAir. This was later discontinued, as the airlines chose different alliances (though they now are both in Oneworld). Lufthansa restarted service to Charlotte in 2003 and now operates flights between Charlotte and Munich, utilizing their Airbus A350-900 fleet. Prior to March 31, 2019, the Lufthansa flew their Airbus A340-600 and Airbus A330-300 aircraft on the route.
In 1999 plans were announced for the construction of a regional carrier concourse (present-day Concourse E) and for the expansion of Concourses A and D. This expansion was designed by The Wilson Group and LS3P Associates Ltd.
In 2002 the new 32-gate Concourse E opened, and US Airways began non-stop service to Belize, Freeport, Providenciales, Punta Cana, and St. Croix. The airline closed its Concourse D US Airways Club location in 2002.
In 2003 the main ticketing hall was expanded to the east, providing 13 additional ticketing counters and a new security checkpoint; Concourse D was expanded by an additional nine gates. That year, US Airways began service to Costa Rica, Mexico City, and St. Kitts.
Following the 2005 acquisition of US Airways by America West Airlines in a reverse takeover, Charlotte remained the primary domestic hub for the airline. The majority of US Airways' international routes remained at the airline's second-largest hub, Philadelphia.
Between 2007 and 2015 the airport completed $1.5 billion worth of construction projects, part of which later became known as the "CLT 2015" plan. These projects included a new airport entrance roadway, new hourly parking decks with a centralized rental car facility, a regional intermodal cargo facility, an expansion of the east-side terminal lobby, new checked baggage handling systems, and additional space for concessions and shops.
Construction of the airport's fourth runway began in spring 2007. At 9,000 feet (2,700 m) long, the new "third parallel" allows three independent approaches for arrivals even from the south, potentially increasing capacity by 33 percent. The new runway lies west of the three existing runways. The construction of the fourth runway required the relocation of parts of Wallace Neel Road (which had been the Western boundary of the airport) to an alignment located farther to the west. Construction occurred in two phases. The first phase, which began in March 2007, included grading and drainage. The second phase included the paving and lighting of the runway. In August 2009, crews paved the last section.
On the morning of November 20, 2008, runway 18R/36L was renumbered runway 18C/36C in anticipation of the upcoming commissioning of the new third parallel runway, which would carry the 18R/36L designation when opened. The runway opened January 6, 2010. The cost for the runway and taxiways was $325 million, with the federal government paying $124 million and the rest funded by a $3 passenger facility charge. The new runway was initially certified for visual approaches only, but on February 11, 2010, was approved for instrument approaches as well. The runway construction also necessitated rerouting several roads around the airport. Within these plans, a new interchange at the I-485 outerbelt is planned to connect the airport and another relocated road.
On September 28, 2010, construction began on a 60,000-square-foot (5,574 m2) expansion to the eastern side of the existing terminal lobby. The first phase of the terminal expansion officially opened on June 29, 2012 connecting the terminal lobby directly to Concourse E, adding a fifth security checkpoint, and additional lobby and baggage recheck areas. The second phase completed in March 2013 added offices for US Customs and Border Protection and TSA, and expanded space for arrival baggage claim. Upon completion, CLT now has 5 security checkpoints and 20 total security screening lanes.
In July 2013, the North Carolina General Assembly passed a bill, introduced by state Senators Bob Rucho and Bill Brawley in February 2013, transferring possession of the airport to a 13-member regional authority. The bill's sponsors claimed that transferring control to the authority would allow for more efficient operations. Then-Mayor of Charlotte Patsy Kinsey expressed regret for the decision, saying it would throw the airport into "chaos and instability." The City of Charlotte was granted a restraining order against the state by Judge Robert Sumner, however, in order to maintain control of the airport. A court date was set for August 1, 2013 to determine the fate of the airport, with former Charlotte mayor Richard Vinroot representing the State as well as the former director of the airport, Jerry Orr. Orr sent a letter to the City after the passage of the bill saying his "employment as Executive Director of the Airport Authority commenced and (his) employment by the City as Aviation Director terminated", but with the granting of the restraining order, this was interpreted as a resignation by the City and chief financial officer of the airport Brent Cagle was named Acting Director.
Charlotte Douglas International Airport remains under the control of the city after a October 2014 ruling in Mecklenburg Superior Court. Judge Robert Ervin ruled in the city's favor, saying that the state overlooked the need to get a federal operating certificate before taking control of the airport from the city.
Beginning in November 2013, the airport began studying expansions to the airfield and terminals. The results of these studies, along with other planning by the Aviation Department, resulted in the "Destination CLT" plan and an updated Airport Area Plan that will take the airport through 2035. These plans incorporated the projects that were not yet completed in "CLT 2015", and added an overall vision to the planned growth of the airport. These plans represent a total planned $2.5 billion investment. Planned expansions include new terminal-side roadway and entrance ramps, expanding the remaining terminal lobby, adding gates to Concourses A, B, C, and E, erecting a new food court, remodeling Concourses A, B, and C, and building the long-anticipated Fourth Parallel Runway.
On May 4, 2015, airport officials formally announced the completion of the "CLT 2015" plan, and kicked off construction under the "Destination CLT" plan. The first project to begin was a new terminal-side roadway. The new roadway will have two levels with a total of 16 lanes, 8 on each level for arrivals and departures respectively. The roadway is also being built further away from the existing terminal lobby, to allow for another project that will expand the lobby area northward. Pedestrian tunnels will be built to connect Level 1 of the Hourly Parking and Rental Car Deck, to the future terminal expansion. The roadway is expected to complete in 2018.
The airport broke ground on Phase I of a new Concourse A North on February 29, 2016. This concourse was initially envisioned as a separate satellite terminal for international flights, but the airport later found additional domestic gates were needed more than international capacity. This first phase is estimated to open in Spring 2018 and includes tearing down the old individual rental car buildings, closing the overflow Cell Phone Parking Lot north of the Terminal A ramp, expanding the ramp and taxiways, and building 9 new gates. The second phase will add 16 more gates to the concourse, predicted to open in 2022. Both expansions are estimated to total $500 million financed by airport revenue bonds and future passenger facility charges.
With the original part of the current terminal built in 1982, and officials felt the terminal needed refreshed. A $55 million remodeling project began in Fall 2016, starting with Concourse A, scheduled to continue then to B, and lastly C. The airport plans to remove carpeting and replace it with terrazzo, install new wall finishes, new LED lighting and other cosmetic improvements. The renovation project is anticipated to be completed in 2019. Later plans will add 10-12 gates to Concourse C by 2024, and 8-10 gates to Concourse B by 2026.
Terminal Eastside Expansion Phase II began in 2016 and intended to add 51,000 square feet (4,738 m2) across 3 floors of space to the airport terminal between Concourses D and E. The project added another food court to the secure side of the terminal, expanded concession areas in the pre-security area, improved passenger movement between Concourse E to the rest of the airport, added a Mother's Room, and 12,000 square feet (1,114 m2) of office space. It will be completed in Summer 2019.
CLT has 115 gates on five concourses.
Concourse A has 22 gates and is used by Air Canada, American, Contour Airlines, Delta, Frontier, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit, and United. It opened in 1986. CLT broke ground in February 2016 on a north expansion of Concourse A. The expansion is planned in two phases, with the first 9 gates coming online in July 2018. The second phase will begin construction in 2020 and plans to add 18 additional gates. 
Concourse C has 18 gates and is used for American flights. It is also used for American Eagle flights operated solely by Republic Airline. An Admirals Club is featured in the intersection between the C and D concourses.
Concourse D has 13 gates and serves as the international concourse. All international arrivals without customs preclearance are handled at this facility. Also, American operates some domestic flights from this concourse. It is also used by Lufthansa and Volaris. It opened in 1990.
Concourse E has 46 gates and is entirely used for American Eagle flights, operating just over 340 flights per day, making it the largest express flight operation in the world. It opened in 2002. Gates E1 through E3 are available for any air carrier to use.
The airport operates 28,720 parking spaces on airport grounds, as of 2017; this includes five parking decks, four parking lots and two employee parking lots. The Hourly Deck, opened in 2015 and is located directly across the airport terminal, houses a multi-brand consolidated Rental Car Facility on levels 1-3 and hourly parking on levels 4-7 with 4,400 spaces. The Daily Decks, opened in 2007 and are identified as East and West, are both five levels with a combine total of 6,000 spaces. Daily North, Long Term 1 and Long Term 2 are surface lots with complimentary shuttle service to-and-from the airport terminal. Cell Phone Lot, opened in 2017, is a 150 space surface lot that is free and available to those waiting to pick up passengers from an arriving flight. Business Valet Decks I & II are located along Wilkinson Boulevard and have a combine total of 7,200 spaces; they offer designated Business Valet shuttles, valet attendants, luggage assistance and various other auto services. The airport has contracted with a customer service program called SmartPark, which allows customers to call a 24-hour hotline to receive updates on parking conditions.
As a joint civil-military facility, the airport is home to Charlotte Air National Guard Base (Charlotte ANGB) and its host unit, the 145th Airlift Wing (145 AW) of the North Carolina Air National Guard, located in a military cantonment area on the east side of the airport. As an Air National Guard organization within the U.S. Air Force, the federal mission of the 145 AW is theater airlift and it is operationally gained by the Air Mobility Command (AMC). The 145 AW is composed of over 300 full-time and over 1000 traditional part-time military personnel, operating and maintaining C-130 Hercules aircraft in support of combatant commanders worldwide or as otherwise directed by higher authority. Its state mission is to respond to requirements, typically of a humanitarian or disaster-relief nature, as identified by the Governor of North Carolina. The 145 AW's C-130H aircraft can also be equipped with the Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System (MAFFS), making them able to discharge large quantities of Phos-Chek, a water-based fire retardant slurry, at low altitude. In this capacity, the 145 AW is one of a select group of Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Command C-130 units that, under the direction of U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM), can deploy and provide military support to civilian authorities across the United States in combatting wild fires and forest fires.
Charlotte ANGB also maintains a USAF Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting (ARFF) unit, emergency vehicles, and associated crash station/fire station on the installation, providing the airport with an additional crash/fire/rescue (CFR) capability that can augment the airport's own civilian ARFF organization.
As of 2018, the 145 AW had replaced its C-130 aircraft with a fleet of C-17 Globemaster III aircraft.
CLT is also home to the USO of NC (United Service Organization of North Carolina) Travel Center, which functions as an airport lounge for military personnel (including veterans) and their families. Staffed by volunteers, the centers offer comfortable chairs, books, magazines, television, movies, video games, play areas for children, and refreshments. Internet and phone use is available free of charge.
Charlotte Douglas International Airport is one of the few airports in the United States with a public viewing area. Here, visitors can watch planes take off, land, and taxi to and from runway 18C/36C.
Charlotte Douglas International Airport is one of a small number of major "hub" airports in the world that has an aviation museum located on the field. The museum, established in 1992, has a collection of over 50 aircraft, including a DC-3 that is painted in Piedmont Airlines livery. The museum also has an aviation library with over 9,000 volumes and a very extensive photography collection. Rare aircraft in the collection include one of only two surviving Douglas D-558 Skystreak aircraft and the second (and oldest surviving) U.S.-built Harrier, which was used as the flight-test aircraft and accumulated over 5,000 flight-test hours.
In January 2011, the museum acquired N106US, the US Airways Airbus A320 ditched by captain Chesley Sullenberger as US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River on January 15, 2009. This aircraft, which was delivered on June 10, 2011, is about 35 years younger than any other commercial airliner on display in a museum.
|Air Canada Express||TorontoPearson|||
|American Airlines|| Albany, Aruba, Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Barbados, Boston, Buffalo, Cancún, Charleston (SC), ChicagoO'Hare, Cleveland, ColumbusGlenn, Curaçao, Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, Detroit, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Frankfurt, Grand Cayman, Greensboro, Grenada (begins December 21, 2019), Harrisburg, Hartford, HoustonIntercontinental, Indianapolis, Jacksonville (FL), Kansas City, Knoxville, Las Vegas, Liberia, LondonHeathrow, Los Angeles, Louisville, Memphis, Mexico City, Miami, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Montego Bay, Munich, Myrtle Beach, Nashville, Nassau, New Orleans, New YorkJFK, New YorkLaGuardia, Newark, Norfolk, Orlando, Pensacola, Philadelphia, PhoenixSky Harbor, Pittsburgh, Portland (ME), Portland (OR), Providence, Providenciales, Punta Cana, Raleigh/Durham, Richmond, Rochester (NY), St. LuciaHewanorra, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, San José de Costa Rica, San Juan, Santo DomingoLas Américas, Savannah, Seattle/Tacoma, St. Louis, St. Maarten, St. Thomas, Syracuse, Tampa, TorontoPearson, Tulsa, WashingtonDulles, WashingtonNational, West Palm Beach, Wilmington (NC)|
Seasonal: Antigua, Barcelona, Belize City, Bermuda, Cozumel, Dublin, Madrid, Montrose, ParisCharles de Gaulle, Puerto Plata, RomeFiumicino, St. Croix, St. Kitts, San José del Cabo
|American Eagle|| Akron/Canton, Albany, Allentown, Asheville, Atlanta, Augusta (GA), Baton Rouge, Birmingham (AL), Blountville/Tri-Cities, Burlington (VT), Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, Champaign/Urbana, Charleston (SC), Charleston (WV), Charlottesville, Chattanooga, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbia (SC), ColumbusGlenn, Dayton, Daytona Beach, Des Moines, Destin/Fort Walton Beach, Detroit, Erie, Evansville, Fayetteville/Bentonville, Fayetteville (NC), Flint, Florence (SC), Fort Wayne, Freeport, Gainesville, Grand Rapids, Greensboro, Greenville (NC), Greenville/Spartanburg, Gulfport/Biloxi, Harrisburg, Hilton Head, Huntington (WV), Huntsville, Indianapolis, Ithaca, Jackson (MS), Jacksonville (FL), Jacksonville (NC), Knoxville, Lexington, Little Rock, Louisville, Lynchburg, Madison, Manchester (NH), Marsh Harbour, Melbourne (FL), Memphis, Milwaukee, Mobile, Montgomery, MontréalTrudeau, Myrtle Beach, Nashville, New Bern, New Haven (CT), New Orleans, Newport News/Williamsburg, Norfolk, North Eleuthera, Oklahoma City, Omaha, Panama City (FL), Pensacola, Peoria, Pittsburgh, Portland (ME), Providence, Richmond, Roanoke, Rochester (NY), St. Louis, Salisbury (MD), San Antonio, Sarasota, Savannah, Shreveport, South Bend, Springfield/Branson, Syracuse, Tallahassee, Toledo, TorontoPearson, Tulsa, WashingtonDulles, WashingtonNational, White Plains, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Wilmington (NC)|
Seasonal: Bangor, George Town, Kansas City, Key West, Nantucket, Rapid City, Traverse City
|Contour Airlines||Beckley, Parkersburg/Marietta, Tampa|||
|Delta Air Lines||Atlanta, Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New YorkJFK, Salt Lake City|||
|Delta Connection||Cincinnati, New YorkLaGuardia|||
|Frontier Airlines|| Denver, Las Vegas, Orlando, Philadelphia, Trenton|
|Southwest Airlines||Baltimore, ChicagoMidway, DallasLove, HoustonHobby, Nashville|||
|Spirit Airlines||Baltimore, Fort Lauderdale, Newark, Orlando|||
|Ultimate Air Shuttle||AtlantaPeachtree, CincinnatiLunken|||
|United Airlines|| ChicagoO'Hare|
Seasonal: Denver, HoustonIntercontinental, Newark
|United Express||ChicagoO'Hare, Denver, HoustonIntercontinental, Newark, WashingtonDulles|||
|Airnet Express||Atlanta-Fulton County, BaltimoreMartin State, BedfordHanscom Field|
|Amazon Air||Cincinnati, Ontario|
|FedEx Express|| Atlanta, Columbus-Rickenbacker, Indianapolis, Memphis|
Seasonal: Los Angeles, Newark
|UPS Airlines||Louisville, Philadelphia, Raleigh/Durham|
|Wiggins Airways||Charleston (SC), Columbia|
|1||Orlando, Florida||596,000||American, Frontier|
|2||New YorkLaGuardia, New York||591,000||American, Delta|
|3||ChicagoO'Hare, Illinois||583,000||American, Frontier, United|
|4||Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas||542,000||American|
|5||Boston, Massachusetts||530,000||American, JetBlue|
|6||Atlanta, Georgia||516,000||American, Delta|
|7||Newark, New Jersey||488,000||American, Spirit, United|
|8||PhoenixSky Harbor, Arizona||482,000||American|
|9||Philadelphia, Pennsylvania||479,000||American, Frontier|
|10||Tampa, Florida||450,000||American, Contour, Frontier|
|2||Montego Bay, Jamaica||323,777||American|
|3||LondonHeathrow, United Kingdom||293,303||American|
|4||Punta Cana, Dominican Republic||257,378||American|
|5||TorontoPearson, Canada||228,412||Air Canada, American|
|10||Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands||135,843||American|
|2||Delta Air Lines||1,140,000||2.72%|
The Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) operates two bus routes from the airport terminal: Route 5-Airport (Sprinter) to Uptown Charlotte/CTC and Route 60-Tyvola Road to LYNX Tyvola station. There is also limited bus service between the old terminal and Uptown Charlotte/CTC via Route 10-West Boulevard. The Lynx Silver Line, planned for completion in 2030, will serve the airport, traveling along a route that largely follows the Sprinter route.
Located in front of the airport terminal, the Rental Car Facility operates on the three lower levels of the Hourly Deck and has a combined 3,000 cars from eight rental car companies. The level 2 lobby includes customer counters and kiosks from the following companies: Advantage, Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz and National.
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