Charlotte Douglas International Airport
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This article is about the airport in Charlotte, North Carolina. For municipal airports with the same name, see Douglas Municipal Airport (disambiguation). For international airports with the same name, see Douglas International Airport (disambiguation).
Charlotte Douglas International Airport (IATA: CLT, ICAO: KCLT, FAALID: CLT) is a joint civil-military public international airport located inCharlotte, North Carolina. Established in 1935 as Charlotte Municipal Airport, in 1954 the airport was renamed Douglas Municipal Airport after former Charlotte mayor Ben Elbert Douglas, Sr. The airport gained its current name in 1982 and is currently US Airways‘ largest hub, with service to 175 domestic and international destinations as of 2008. In 2009, it was the 9th busiest airport in the United States. In 2010, Charlotte was the 6th busiest airport in the world, based on traffic movements, and in 2013 it was the 23rd busiest airport in the world by passenger traffic. Charlotte Douglas International is the busiest airport in the United States without nonstop service to Asia.
The early years
The city received a $200,000 grant from the Works Progress Administration(WPA) in 1930 to establish Charlotte’s first municipal airport.
In 1936 the 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 at Fenway Sports Group‘s Boeing 727 parking area. (FSG’s North American motorsport venture,Roush Fenway Racing, is based in the old terminal).
The United States Army Air Forces took control of the airport and established Morris Field Air Base in 1941. The airfield was used by theThird Air Force for antisubmarine patrols and training.
Aerial view circa 1946
1950 to mid-1960s: into the jet age
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. The terminal had two floors, though passenger operations were confined to the ground floor. Ticketing and baggage claim were on each side of an open space which bisected the building from 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.
Airport diagram for 1955
Eastern Air Lines began scheduled jet flights with the Boeing 720 in early 1962. Eastern used the west pier, Piedmontand Delta the center pier, and United and Southern used the east pier.
Late 1960s to 1978: growth pre-deregulation
A major renovation project in the late 1960s expanded the facility considerably. Eastern opened a ‘unit terminal’ in 1967, replacing the old west pier. This new facility had 8 dedicated gates for Eastern, each with its own departure lounge, as well as a snack bar and separate baggage claim space. Eastern passengers continued to check in at the main terminal.
Two years later 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 also had separate departure lounges, as well as restrooms and an enlarged baggage claim area. United’s flights continued to the use the east pier, although an enclosed holdroom was added for waiting passengers.
In 1973, Eastern added two more gates to the end of its west concourse.
1978 to 1989: becoming a major hub
After airline deregulation in 1978, 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, and ground was broken in 1979.
In 1979 Piedmont Airlines chose Charlotte as the hub for its expanding route network. To accommodate booming growth, 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.
1990 to 2004: the influence of US Airways
US Airways jets at CLT in 1998 in the former USAir livery
Lufthansa Airbus A340-600 on final approach to runway 18C
The central atrium of the passenger terminal building
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; however, this service was discontinued shortly thereafter. In 1994, British Airways began service to London via a “global alliance” with USAir. This has since been discontinued, as the airlines had chosen opposite alliances (though they now are both in OneWorld). Lufthansa did restart service to Charlotte in 2003 and now operates flights between Charlotte and Munich, Germany utilizing Airbus A340-600 andAirbus A330-300 aircraft.
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 also 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; and Concourse D was expanded by an additional 9 gates. That year, US Airways began service toCosta Rica, Mexico City, and St. Kitts. Lufthansa also returned to the airport at this time providing service to Munich.
2005 and Beyond
Following America West Airlines‘ acquisition of US Airways in a reverse takeover, Charlotte (CLT) remains the primary domestic hub for the airline. However, the majority of US Airways’ international routes are served out of the airline’s second-largest hub, Philadelphia. In April 2007, Charlotte was the fastest growing airport in the US. and is among the 30 busiest airports in the world in terms of passenger traffic.
Dispute over control with the NC General Assembly
On July 16, 2013 the North Carolina General Assembly passed a bill, introduced by state Senator Bob Rucho in February 2013, transferring possession of the airport to a 13-member regional authority. Then Acting Mayor of Charlotte Patsy Kinsey expressed regret for the decision, saying it would throw the airport into “chaos and instability.” However, the City of Charlotte was granted a restraining order against the state by Judge Robert Sumner in order to maintain control of the airport, and a court date was set for August 1 to determine the fate of the airport, with former Charlotte mayorRichard 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.
The August 1, 2013 court date yielded a verdict that the transfer, should it occur, would need prior approval from theFAA, a division of the US Department of Transportation, currently headed by former Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx, who has officially recused himself from the matter.
Construction and Expansion
Construction of Charlotte International’s fourth runway began in the spring of 2007. At 9,000 feet (2,700 m) long, the new “third parallel” will allow three independent approaches for arrivals even from the south, potentially increasing capacity by 33 percent. This 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 previously formed the Western boundary of the airport) to an alignment located further to the west.
Construction involved 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 changed to 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 fee added to the cost of a ticket.
The new runway was initially operational for visual approaches only, but is since February 11, 2010 approved for instrument approaches as well. The Runway construction also has planned to reroute 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.
In 2013, the airport will release plans for the largest expansion in the airport’s history. This would add onto multiple concourses, add an additional food court and multiple new parking decks.
Furthermore, Charlotte Douglas has initiated a project known as “CLT 2015”, this project has been aimed at aiding the airport cope with the massive increase of passengers at the airport in recent years, and therefore expansion is needed to continue to allow Charlotte Douglas International Airport to continue growing in size and keep up with demand, the current plans are to expand the current terminal lobby to the north, construct a fifth runway and a new International terminal.
The “Fourth Parallel” runway for Charlotte Douglas is due to be formally designed in 2014 and construction has been planned to commence in January 2015 and scheduled for completion in the early stages of 2017, the runway is going to be built in between the existing runways 18R/36L and 18C/36C, and at 12,000 ft, the new runway would be Charlotte’s longest to date.
The airport plans to extend Concourse E by 120 feet (37 m) to accommodate additional aircraft. Unlike the rest of Concourse E, this new portion will have 2 levels to accommodate larger CRJs and Embraer aircraft.
In addition,Concourse E is planned to be disconnected to the main terminal, and would then be accessible by underground walkway. A shuttle will be built connecting the terminals, parking garages, rental car center, and eventually, light rail.
On September 28, 2010 construction officially began to expand the ticket counter area connecting it to Concourse E eventually making room for one more security checkpoint area. The first phase of the terminal expansion officially opened on Friday June 29, 2012.
The parking options at Charlotte Douglas have drastically improved in recent years. There have been two new Daily Parking decks erected since 2005, providing almost 6,000 additional parking spaces for the traveling public. There are also four Long Term lots, with Long Term 1 and 2 being the primary ones contributing a combined 6,500 spaces. In addition, there is the Daily North lot (formerly Remote), which is between the Daily and Long Term lots, with about 1,500 spaces. A new 40-million-dollar Business Valet Parking Deck, which utilizes Post Tension Concrete for each massive 250,000-square-foot (23,000 m2) level, has now opened. Charlotte’s close-in surface and deck parking exits are serviced by part-time personnel from booths apparently dating to the 1982 terminal expansion. The Daily parking rates at CLT are some of the lowest in the nation, with Long Term costing $4 and Daily/Daily North Parking is $10 per day. Staff audits every parking area each evening to upload license plate data to ensure each vehicle is assessed the correct parking fee when it exits. The airport has recently aligned with a customer service program called SmartPark, which allows customers to call a hotline 24 hours a day to receive updates on parking conditions. Charlotte Douglas also has Valet parking that provides vehicle washing and detailing and even paintless dent removal services for an additional charge.
As of March 1, 2013 both Hourly decks are closed and have been demolished.
All current lots require shuttles. Business Valet picks up outside Concourse D on the Departures level. All other shuttles pick up on the Arrivals level in the B zone and D zone. The Daily decks have a shuttle which makes 1 stop for both decks. Long Term 1 shares with Daily North and makes stops at lettered bus stops. Long Term 2 and 3 share a shuttle and also make stops at lettered bus stops. It is advised to remember your lot and letter to get on the correct bus on arrival. You can now keep your ticket with you and pay while waiting for the return shuttle with a credit or debit card or you can pay at a manned booth or automated machine.
As of July 2012 there is now also an offsite parking lot called Park n Go on Scott Futrell Drive.
A US Airways Airbus A321-200 landing at Charlotte Douglas International Airport in June 2009.
Charlotte Douglas International Airport is one of the few airports in the US that has a public viewing area. Here, visitors can watch planes take off, land, and taxi to and from runway 18C/36C. It is credited with having one of the best airport views in the United States.
Carolinas Aviation Museum
Main article: Carolinas Aviation Museum
Charlotte Douglas International Airport is one of a small number of major “hub” airports in the world which has an aviation museum located on the field. The Museum, established in 1992, has a collection of over 50 aircraft, including a flying DC-3 which 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) US-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 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, gives the museum an unparalleled technological lead over other aviation museums in the field of commercial aviation.