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|
FAA airport diagram
Source: Charlotte Douglas International Airport
Charlotte Douglas International Airport (IATA: CLT, ICAO: KCLT, FAA LID: CLT) is an international airport in Charlotte, North Carolina and is the primary airport for commercial and military use in the Charlotte metropolitan area located roughly six miles from the city's central business district. The airport is owned by the City of Charlotte and operated by the city's aviation department. Established in 1935 as Charlotte Municipal Airport, the airport was renamed in 1954 for Ben Elbert Douglas Sr., who was mayor of Charlotte when the airport was first built. It took its present name in 1982. The airport is a fortress hub for American Airlines, which serves 148 destinations and operates over 700 daily flights out of Charlotte. CLT covers 5,558 acres (2,249 ha) of land.
As of 2019, it was the 11th-busiest airport in the United States ranked by passenger traffic (having processed over 50 million passengers) and 5th-busiest by aircraft movements. It was the 6th-busiest airport in the world ranked by aircraft movements. The airport has four runways and one passenger terminal composed of five concourses. CLT's single terminal has the more gates (115) than any other single airport terminal building in the United States. A joint commercial-civil-military facility, the airport is home to the 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 containment area on the east side of the airport. The airport is also home to an air cargo center and an American Airlines maintenance facility.
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 in the United States, 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.
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., 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.
Late 1960s to 1978: before deregulation
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.
1978 to 1989: becoming a hub
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.
1990 to 2013: the influence of US Airways
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. 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.
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.
2013-Present: Post-Merger Growth and Destination CLT
In 2015, airport officials formally announced the completion of the "CLT 2015" plan, and kicked off construction of the new Destination CLT airport development plan. Destination CLT represents a total $2.5 billion investment into the future growth of the airport.
Concourse A North, a nine-gate expansion of Concourse A, was completed in summer 2018. Air Canada, JetBlue, United, Southwest, Frontier, and Spirit moved their operations to Concourse A North upon its completion. A digital artwork titled "Interconnected," by Refik Anadol, is prominently featured on three massive display screens in Concourse A North. The artwork draws from the airport's data network of aircraft movements and turns the data into an always-changing visual artwork. The main 139-foot-long screen is one of the largest digital artworks of its kind in the world.
In late 2019, the new terminal roadway was opened. The new roadway has sixteen lanes over two levels, with departures traffic using the elevated level and arrivals traffic utilizing the ground level. The eight lanes on each level are split into five outer lanes for personal vehicles, and three inner lanes for commercial and airport vehicles. Some components of the project, namely the skybridges from the hourly parking deck and rental car facility, the glass canopy over the roadway, and some lanes on the departure level will not be finished until the terminal lobby project is complete.
In November 2019, the East Terminal Expansion opened. The expansion added 51,000 square feet, primarily of passenger amenity space, across three levels. The main level of the expansion is "The Plaza," a food court. The Plaza's artistic centerpiece is a hanging artwork entitled "Loops" by Christian Moeller. "Loops" became a part of the project through a partnership between the airport and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Arts and Science Council. The upper level of the East Terminal Expansion includes a Centurion Lounge.
The airport announced that it had served 50.2 million passengers in 2019, a new record for the airport.
Destination CLT includes a $90 million terminal renovation project of Concourses A, B, C, D, and the Atrium. Aspects of the renovations include the replacement of carpet with terrazzo, upgraded lighting, remodeled bathrooms, and new seats with charging in every seat. Concourse B renovations wrapped up in 2019.
With the conclusion of the terminal roadway and curb front construction, work on the terminal lobby renovation and expansion began. The $600 million project is projected to be completed in 2025. The project will consolidate existing security checkpoints A, B, C, D, and E into three larger and more efficient checkpoints. The baggage claim and ticketing areas will be completely gutted and remodeled. Raymond Kaskey's "Queen Charlotte" statue will be moved to a prominent position within the new "Queen's Court" area in the expanded lobby. After the lobby renovation and expansion is complete, a 146,000-square-foot glass canopy will be constructed over the roadway and pedestrian skybridges and tunnels will be built connecting the terminal to the hourly parking/rental car facility complex.
Separate from the Destination CLT family of projects, the FAA is building a new 367-foot control tower south of the CLT passenger terminal to replace the existing 150-foot tower north of the terminal. When complete, the tower will be the second-tallest air traffic control tower in the United States and the fifth-tallest air traffic control tower in the world. The new tower is expected to come into active service in 2020.
Planning is currently underway for the construction of a fourth parallel runway between existing runways 18R/36L and 18C/36C. The runway, projected to cost $422 million, is slated to be 10,000 feet long. Previously, a 12,000-foot runway had been planned; however, the airport reversed course due to practicality and cost considerations.
Future terminal expansions included under the Destination CLT umbrella include Phase II of the Concourse A Expansion, Phase VIII of the Concourse E expansion, and expansions to Concourses B and C. These expansions are projected to cost roughly $1.1 billion and are not expected to be complete until 2026. 8-10 gates are expected to be added to Concourse B, 10-12 gates to Concourse C, and 10 gates in the expansion of Concourse A farther north. Phase VIII of the Concourse E expansion will add 34,000 square feet of hold room to the concourse. This phase of the expansion accommodates gates already in operation; however, passengers must walk under temporary canopies to access the aircraft parked at these gates.
The construction of the CATS LYNX Silver Line, expected to be complete in 2030, will bring light rail service to the airport. The airport plans to construct an automated people mover to connect the terminal to the light rail station, which will be located at the airport's Destination District just north of the terminal.
CLT currently has four runways:
|Asphalt/Concrete||18L (Cat I), 36R (Cat IIIB)||The 18L and 36R approaches are both DME-equipped.|||
|Concrete||18C, 36C||The 18C approach is DME-equipped.|||
|Concrete||18R (Cat I), 36L (Cat IIIB)||Used for arrivals only. The 18R and 36L approaches are both DME-equipped.|||
|Asphalt/Concrete||05 (Cat I), 23||The 23 approach is DME-equipped. 05/23 is the crosswind runway and is rarely used.|||
The 18/36 runways are parallel to one another and are used simultaneously. CLT typically uses either a "North Flow" or "South Flow" air traffic configuration. When the "North Flow" configuration is active, all arriving aircraft arrive from the south and all departing aircraft depart to the north. When the "South Flow" configuration is active, all arriving aircraft arrive from the north and all departing aircraft depart to the south. This approach system enables a triple approach option during peak arrival times, allowing all parallel runways to receive arrivals simultaneously.
CLT has one terminal with 115 gates on five concourses. All five concourses are connected to the central terminal building housing ticketing, security, and baggage claim. The lower level of the terminal houses baggage claim and customs, while the upper level houses check-in and security. A central passenger hall known as the Atrium is located at the convergence of the concourses. Moving walkways are located throughout the terminal.
Concourse A consists of two piers extending westward and has 21 gates. The original concourse pier with Gates A1-A11 opened in 1986. The south gates on the original concourse A are used by American and the north gates are used by Delta. Phase I of the Concourse A expansion project opened in July 2018 with a new pier containing 9 new gates, A21-A29. The expansion, dubbed "Concourse A North," houses the operations of Air Canada, Contour, Frontier, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit Airlines and United.
Concourse B consists of a pier extending south from the Atrium. It opened in 1982 and has 16 gates, which are used for American flights. The concourse features an American Airlines Admirals Club, which was remodeled in 2018.
Concourse C is a pier extending south from the Atrium opposite Concourse B. It has 18 gates and is used for American flights. It is also used for American Eagle flights operated solely by Republic Airways utilizing Embraer ERJ family aircraft. An Admirals Club is located in the intersection between the C and D concourses.
Concourse D has 13 gates and is used by American, Lufthansa, and Volaris. Concourse D serves as the international concourse and all international arrivals without customs preclearance are handled at this facility. U.S. Customs and Border Protection operates a processing facility in Concourse D below the passenger areas. International passengers connecting through CLT must pass through the CBP facility and then recheck baggage and re-clear security. American also operates some domestic flights from this concourse. 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. Concourse E is the only concourse at CLT where not all aircraft are accessible via jet bridge. Passengers must walk to some gates outside and board aircraft via stairs or a ramp. It opened in 2002. Gates E1 through E3 are available for any air carrier to use.
The Atrium is the central passenger hall that connects to lobby security and all five concourses. The Atrium contains a food court and other amenities. Live piano music is featured regularly in the Atrium. The mezzanine level contains a USO lounge for veterans and service members as well as a chapel.
The Plaza is a food hall located adjacent to The Atrium between concourses D and E. The upper level of The Plaza is an American Express Centurion Lounge. The Centurion Lounge at CLT features sweeping views of the airport and a menu curated by Charlotte chef Joe Kindred.
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.
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 bus service to the air cargo center, maintenance facilities, and old terminal via Route 10-West Boulevard to the Charlotte Transportation Center in center city Charlotte. 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.
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 in addition to proving a view of concourse A. The Overlook is a popular spot for aviation enthusiasts and plane spotters. A fourth parallel runway between 18C/36C and 18R/36L would force the closure of the Overlook.
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.
Aviation and Cargo Services
Aviation services facilities at CLT are located either in the area south of runway 05/23 and in between 18C/36C and 18L/36R or west of runway 18L/36R.
The Wilson Air Center is the fixed-base operator (FBO) for CLT, providing various services to private aircraft. Several corporations have private aircraft based at CLT, including Bank of America, Truist Financial, and Atrium Health.
American Airlines operates a maintenance hangar south of the terminal just east of runway 18C/36C. Here, American services aircraft it operates at CLT, including Airbus A330 and A320 family, Boeing 737, Bombardier CRJ700 series, and Embraer ERJ family aircraft.
Air cargo operations at CLT are located primarily at a facility just east of runway 18L/36R. UPS, FedEx, and Amazon Air all have substantial cargo operations at CLT. American Airlines Cargo also maintains some cargo operations at CLT.
Airlines and destinations
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|1||Orlando, Florida||560,000||American, Frontier, Spirit|
|2||Newark, New Jersey||456,000||American, Spirit, United|
|3||Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas||443,000||American|
|4||Chicago–O'Hare, Illinois||430,000||American, United|
|5||Baltimore, Maryland||426,000||American, Southwest, Spirit|
|6||Boston, Massachusetts||410,000||American, JetBlue|
|7||Atlanta, Georgia||402,000||American, Delta|
|8||New York–LaGuardia, New York||401,000||American, Delta|
|9||Philadelphia, Pennsylvania||398,000||American, Frontier|
|10||Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Arizona||366,000||American|
|2||Montego Bay, Jamaica||323,777||American|
|3||London–Heathrow, United Kingdom||293,303||American|
|4||Punta Cana, Dominican Republic||257,378||American|
|5||Toronto–Pearson, Canada||228,412||Air Canada, American|
|8||Munich, Germany||138,659||American, Lufthansa|
|10||Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands||135,843||American|
|2||Delta Air Lines||1,324,000||2.95%|
Accidents and incidents
- On May 24, 1950, a Grumman Mallard operated by Ford Motor Company crashed during takeoff, one occupant was killed.
- 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 1.6 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 December 10, 1997, a Beechcraft King Air, operated by Spitfire Sales and Leasing crashed on approach to runway 36L colliding with trees and the ground, one crewmember was killed.
- 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 August 11, 2019 a Piedmont Airlines ramp agent was killed while driving a luggage cart.
- On September 28, 2019, a 3-year-old boy died from blunt force injuries as a result of falling from an escalator near the baggage claim area at the airport. The incident occurred three days prior to his death. About two months later, the child's mother was arrested by the police where she was charged with child abuse and also faced neglect charges.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Charlotte/Douglas International Airport.|
- Official website
- "Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT)" (PDF). at North Carolina DOT airport guide
- (PDF), effective September 10, 2020
- FAA Terminal Procedures for CLT, effective September 10, 2020
- Resources for this airport:
- AC-U-KWIK information for KCLT