Charlotte Douglas International Airport (IATA: CLT,Â ICAO: KCLT,Â FAA LID: CLT) is a joint civil-military public international airport located in Charlotte, North Carolina, United States. 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, as of September 2017, it is the second largest hub for American Airlines after Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, with service to 161 domestic and international destinations. As of 2016 it was the 5th busiest airport in the United States, ranked by passenger traffic and aircraft movements. It was also the 7th busiest airport in the world ranked by aircraft movements Charlotte is the largest airport in the United States without any nonstop service to Asia. The airport serves as a major gateway to the Caribbean Islands. CLT covers 5,558 acres (2,249 ha) of land.
The city received a $200,000 grant from the Works Progress Administration 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 the Third 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 (6,500Â 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 that 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, Piedmont and 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 eight dedicated gates for Eastern, each with its own departure lounge, a 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 also had separate departure lounges, as well as 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.
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 (3,000Â 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 route network. To accommodate booming growth, a new 325,000-square-foot (30,200Â 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 2013: the influence of US Airways
In 1990, a new 80,000-square-foot (7,400Â 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 was, however, discontinued 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, Germany utilizing Airbus A340-600 and Airbus 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 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 (CLT) remained the primary domestic hub for the airline. The majority of US Airways' international routes remained at the airline's second-largest hub, Philadelphia.
Dispute over control with the NC General Assembly
On July 16, 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.
The August 1, 2013 court date yielded a verdict that the transfer, should it occur, would need prior approval from the Federal Aviation Administration, a division of the US Department of Transportation, which was headed by former Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx, who recused himself from the matter.
Charlotte Douglas International Airport remains under the control of the city after a ruling 13 Oct 2014 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.
It was later revealed that the drive to transfer control of the airport out of city hands was motivated in part by reports of a federal investigation into public corruption in Charlotte. That investigation ultimately resulted in Mayor Patrick Cannon being arrested (and ultimately pleading guilty) to public corruption charges.
Construction and Expansion
"CLT 2015" Plan
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 the spring of 2007. At 9,000 feet (2,700Â 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.
In November 2013, the airport released plans for the largest expansion in its history. Part of these plans were integrated into the "CLT 2015" project bundle, and others would later be known as the "Destination CLT" plan. This will improve multiple concourses, add an additional food court and multiple new parking decks. The project aimed to aid the airport in coping with the pronounced increase of passengers at the airport in recent years. The plans were to expand the terminal lobby to the north, construct a fifth runway, and at the time included plans for a new international terminal. The new runway is going to be built in between the existing runways 18R/36L and 18C/36C, and at 12,000Â ft, the new runway will be Charlotte's longest to date. Officials hope to begin construction on the runway in 2020.
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.
"Destination CLT" Plan
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 4 May 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 which 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 29 February 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 $500,000,000, 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 $55,000,000 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 intends 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 will add another food court to the secure side of the terminal, expand concession areas in the pre-security area, improve passenger movement between Concourse E to the rest of the airport, add a Mother's Room, and 12,000 square feet (1,114 m2) of future office space. It is scheduled to be complete in the Summer of 2018.
The parking options at Charlotte Douglas have 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, the main parking lots, 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 Business Valet Parking Deck, which utilizes Post Tension Concrete for each massive 250,000-square-foot (23,000Â m2) level, has opened. The airport has aligned with a customer service program called SmartPark, which allows customers to call a 24-hour hotline to receive updates on parking conditions. The airport also has valet parking that provides vehicle washing, detailing, and even paintless dent removal services for an additional charge.
In November 2014, the airport opened its new terminal-adjacent hourly parking deck. This deck provides 4,000 public parking spaces on levels 4 through 7. The 3,000 spaces on levels 1 through 3 are dedicated to rental cars. The opening of this new deck allows for the future redevelopment of the former rental car lots with a new concourse.
All lots except the hourly deck can only be reached from the terminal via shuttle. 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 that makes one 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.
In July 2012, an offsite parking lot called Park n Go opened on Scott Futrell Drive.
Onsite parking costs are as follows:
- Long Term (Lots 1-4): $7/day (effective 9 Sep 2016)
- Daily North Lot: $8/day
- Daily Decks (East and West): $10/day
- Business Valet Decks: $14/Day
- Hourly Deck: $20/day (first hour free; $1 per 30 mins thereafter, $20/day max)
- Curbside Valet: $35/day (effective 9 Sep 2016)
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. It is credited with having one of the best airport views in the United States.
Carolinas Aviation Museum
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.
- Concourse A
- Concourse A has 12 gates and is the only concourse not used by American Airlines. It is used by Air Canada, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines. It opened in 1986.
Concourse A North
- Originally planned as a separate terminal for expanded international service, the airport broke ground 29 February 2016 on a new concourse extending north from the present Concourse A. The expansion is planned in two phases, with the first adding 9 new gates scheduled to open Spring 2018, and a second phase beginning in 2020 to add 16 additional gates.
- Concourse B
- Concourse B has 16 gates and is used for American Airlines flights. Along with Concourse C, this terminal opened in 1982.
- Concourse C
- Concourse C has 18 gates and is used for American Airlines flights. It is also used for American Eagle flights operated solely by Republic Airlines.
- Concourse D
- Concourse D has 13 gates and serves as the international concourse. All international arrivals without customs preclearance are handled at this facility. Also, American Airlines operates some domestic flights from this concourse. It is also used by Lufthansa. It opened in 1990.
- Concourse E
- Concourse E has 38 gates and is entirely used for American Eagle flights, operating just over 340 flights per day (making it the largest express operation in the world). It opened in 2002. Gates E1 through E3 are available for any air carrier to use.
Admirals Club: Concourses B and C/D connector USO Lounge: Atrium
There was an additional US Airways Club located in Concourse D, which was closed due to US Airways costcutting. British Airways also operated a lounge in the Main Atrium, which became a USO Lounge after they canceled service to Charlotte.
Airlines and destinations
- Charlotte-Monroe Executive Airport
- Concord Regional Airport
- Rock Hill Municipal Airport
- Sprinter Enhanced Bus Service (City Bus â" See below)
- Hotel Shuttles
- Car Rentals
CATS' Sprinter Enhanced Bus Service connects the airport to the uptown Charlotte Transportation Center (this route used to be known as the "Route 5-Airport"). It arrives and departs in front of Zone D Baggage Claim in the commercial lanes, and is easily identifiable by its green livery and "Sprinter" decals.
The service is operated from the airport every 20 minutes Mondayâ"Friday from 5:50am to 7:00pm; after 7:00pm, service is offered every 30 minutes until 12:02am. On Saturday and Sunday, Sprinter operates from the airport every hour from 6:00am to 8:00am, every half-hour from 8:00am to 9:00pm, and every hour from 9:00pm to 1:00am. The trip time from the airport to downtown is approximately 20 minutes (depending on traffic conditions), with one-way fares at $2.20, the same as all local routes in the CATS system. View the Sprinter Schedule for more detailed schedule and route information (click the link and choose 'Route 5-Airport').
Consolidated Car Rental Facility
The following companies operate from within the Rental Car Facility: Advantage, Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz and National.
Charlotte Air National Guard Base
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.
Charlotte Douglas International Airport 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.
Accidents and incidents
- On September 11, 1974, Eastern Air Lines Flight 212 crashed on final approach en route from Charleston, SC. The NTSB determined that the probable cause of the accident was a "lack of altitude awareness" of the pilots at critical points during the approach. Of 82 people on board, only 13 survived the crash and fire; three of those died within a month of the accident.
- On October 25, 1986, Piedmont Airlines Flight 467 overran the runway, damaging the airplane beyond repair. Of the 119 people on board, 3 passengers sustained serious injuries, and 3 crew members and 28 passengers sustained minor injuries in the incident. There were no fatalities. An NTSB report was released, it concluded that "crew coordination was deficient due to the first officer's failure to call the captain's attention to aspects of the approach that were not in accordance with Piedmont operating procedures."
- On January 19, 1988, a Mountain Air Cargo De Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter 200 (N996SA), on a flight from Erie, Pennsylvania, descended below the glide path on approach, collided with a tree and struck the ground 1.6Â km away from the airport. The crash was due to pilot error. The pilot was killed. There was no one else on board.
- On July 2, 1994, USAir Flight 1016, which originated in Columbia, South Carolina, crashed in a residential area on approach, killing 37. The crash of the DC-9 was attributed to windshear during a thunderstorm.
- On January 8, 2003, US Airways Express Flight 5481 crashed on takeoff while en route to Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport, killing all 21 people aboard. The flight was operated by Air Midwest, an independent airline operating under a US Airways Express codesharing agreement.
- On May 29, 2009, a runway incursion occurred on Runway 18L between US Airways Express Flight 2390, a CRJ-200, and a general aviation Pilatus PC-12 turboprop. While Flight 2390 was on its takeoff roll, the general aviation aircraft was instructed to taxi into position and hold on the same runway for an intersection departure. The aircraft came within 10 feet of each other. There were no injuries.
- On February 15, 2017, American Eagle Flight 5320 heading to Gulfportâ"Biloxi International Airport struck a deer while taking off from runway 36 center. The Bombardier CRJ700 was forced to turn around and abort the flight. The plane could be seen trailing a vapor stream from the right wing as it circled back to land. Officials said there was a fuel leak, and crews sprayed the plane with foam. There were no injuries.
- Official website
- "Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT)" (PDF).Â at North Carolina DOT airport guide
- FAA Airport DiagramÂ (PDF), effective November 9, 2017
- FAA Terminal Procedures for CLT, effective November 9, 2017
- Resources for this airport:
- AirNav airport information for KCLT
- ASN accident history for CLT
- FlightAware airport information and live flight tracker
- NOAA/NWS latest weather observations
- SkyVector aeronautical chart for KCLT
- FAA current CLT delay information
- AC-U-KWIK information for KCLT