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Charlotte Douglas International Airport is a joint civil-military public international airport located in Charlotte, North Carolinamarker. 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 135 domestic and international destinations as of 2008. In 2009, it was the 8th busiest airport in the USmarker and the 24th busiest airport in the world by passenger traffic.


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 and was operated by the City of Charlotte. Eastern Air Lines began its first regularly scheduled passenger service in 1937. The original passenger terminal is still at the airport, and is now the Carolinas Aviation Museum.

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.

1950 to mid-1960s: into the jet age

In 1950, Eastern Airlines began regularly scheduled passenger service from CLT. In 1954, a 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, although passenger operations were confined to the ground floor. Ticketing and baggage claim were located on each side of an open space which bisected the building from north to south, and a mezzanine restaurant and various airline offices overlooked this open space. Delta Air Lines began regularly scheduled passenger service in 1956.

Eastern Air Lines began the region's first regularly scheduled jet service in 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 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 parallel runway and control tower were opened in 1979 to handle the increased passenger loads. The airport's master plan also called for construction of a new terminal across the runway from the existing site. Ground for this expansion was broken in 1979.

In 1979, Piedmont Airlines dedicated Charlotte as the hub for its rapidly expanding route network. To accommodate the booming growth of the facility, a new passenger terminal opened in 1982, and the airport was renamed Charlotte Douglas International Airport. In 1987, Piedmont inaugurated non-stop service to Londonmarker.

In the mid-1980s, the old terminal site was converted in to a cargo center, and the central concourse and Eastern 'unit terminal' were removed to make way for larger, more modern cargo buildings. The original main building still stands, however, 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

In 1990, a new international and commuter concourse opened, and in 1991 further expansion of the terminal buildings 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 1992, Lufthansamarker 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 have chosen opposite alliances. Lufthansa did restart service to Charlotte in 2003 and now operates flights between Charlotte and Munichmarker, Germany utilizing Airbus A340-600 aircraft.

When USAir became US Airways in 1996, Charlotte remained its largest hub in terms of passenger traffic, and 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.

In 2002, the new 32-gate Concourse E opened, and US Airways also began non-stop service to Belizemarker, Freeportmarker, Providencialesmarker, Punta Canamarker, and St. Croixmarker.

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 to Costa Ricamarker, Mexico Citymarker, and St. Kittsmarker. Lufthansa also returned to the airport at this time providing service to Munichmarker.

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 vast majority of US Airways' international routes are served out of the airline's second-largest hub, Philadelphiamarker. In April 2007, Charlotte was the fastest growing airport in the US.
CLT went on to surpass its sister hub in Philadelphia as one of the 30 busiest airports in the world in terms of passenger traffic. A new terminal to the northwest of the center of the airport will be built in the near future, possibly as a Caribbean/Latin America international terminal. As a result, rental car agencies will reportedly be placed in the bottom level of the closer two parking decks. The US Department of Transportation have tentatively awarded US Airways for a Charlotte-Philadelphia-Beijing route to begin in March 2010. The service will not operate with the same plane, however, with passengers having to switch to different aircraft when arriving in Philadelphia.

US Airways B737-300 Landing at Charlotte/Douglas International Airport April 2008


Construction of Charlotte International's fourth runway began in the spring of 2007. At long, the new "third parallel" will allow three independent approaches for arrivals, 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 will involve two phases. The first phase, which began in March 2007, includes grading and drainage. The second phase includes the paving and lighting of the runway. In August of 2009, crews paved the last section, and lighting is still being completed.

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 will carry the 18R/36L designation when opened.

Reportedly the new runway should currently be operational for VFR use only, however, lack of a fire station on the west side of runway 18C/36C has prevented this from happening. Response times from the current station are not fast enough to meet FAA standards. Once the navigational aides are installed and a fire/emergency response station is in place, the runway should be completely operational by the Spring of 2010. The project is funded through federal grants, passenger facility charges and bond funds. 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.

As a part of a large-scale program to renew the airport, on June 29 2009, the red "Welcome to Charlotte" sign at the passenger and main entrance of the airport, on Josh Birmingham Parkway, has been repainted blue and gray.


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 two Long Term lots, with a combined almost 6,500 spaces. There is also the Remote lot, which is between the Daily and Long Term lots, with about 1,500 spaces. In the summer of 2008 ground will be broken for the new 40-million-dollar Business Valet Parking Deck, which will utilize Post Tension Concrete for each massive level. 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 & Remote parking costing $6 per day (Remote parking is closed as of January 5, 2009 for an unknown length of time). Daily Parking is $6 per day, and Hourly $2 per hour with a maximum charge of $16 per day. Hourly also allows the first 30 minutes of parking free of charge. 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.

The Overlook

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.

Carolinas Aviation Museummarker

Charlotte-Douglas International Airport is one a very 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 was once owned and operated by Piedmont Airlines. 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. Visitors can also watch planes on runway 18L/36R and 23.

Incidents and accidents

Accidents en route

  • January 15, 2009 US Airways Flight 1549marker (New York's LaGuardia Airportmarker to Seattle via Charlotte made an emergency landing in the Hudson River after geese struck and disabled both of the engines).


  • On September 11, 1974, Eastern Air Lines Flight 212marker crashed on final approach en route from Charleston, SC. The crash site is due south of what is now Runway 36R west of York Road and north of Thornfield Road. 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. The pilots conversed regarding numerous non-operational topics. With pilot attention drawn outside the aircraft, altitude "call outs" were neglected. With foggy treetops in sight, the pilot pulled back sharply & went to full throttle. The DC-9-31, traveling over 200 MPH, clipped trees, snapped wings, ruptured fuel tanks and spilled 13,000 pounds of Jet A fuel. The fiery airliner slid through dense woods into a ravine, broke into pieces, coming to rest with most exit doors blocked by pine trees. The Steele Creek Volunteer Fire Department responded quickly, extingushing the fire within minutes. Of 82 people onboard, 13 survived the crash and fire. Two other passengers died several days later. Stephen Colbert, host of The Colbert Report on Comedy Central, lost his father and two brothers in the accident. Many passengers were wearing stylish "double-knit" garments that adhered to the skin when burned.

  • On 19 January 1988, a Mountain Air Cargo De Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter 200 (N996SA), on a flight from Eriemarker, Pennsylvaniamarker to Charlotte, descended below the glide path on approach to Charlotte/Douglas International Airport, 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 August 10, 2007, a TSA agent at one of the airport's security checkpoints saw a man bypass security. The FAA grounded flights out of the airport, but the man was never found. The incident was covered nationally on CNN and MSNBC using WCNC-TVmarker footage at the airport.

Airlines and destinations

Concourse A

Concourse A has 12 Gates. and is the only concourse not used by US Airways.

Concourse B

Concourse B has 16 Gates.

Concourse C

Concourse C has 18 Gates.

Concourse D

Concourse D has 13 Gates.

Concourse E

Concourse E has 33 Gates.

Ground transportation

- Sprinter Enhanced Bus Service (City Bus - See below)


-Hotel Shuttles

-Car Rentals

CATS' Sprinter Enhanced Bus Service connects the airport to the downtown Charlotte Transportation Center (this route was formerly 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 Monday-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. Trip time from the airport to downtown is approx. 20 minutes (depending on traffic conditions) and one-way fare is $1.50 (this is the same as all local routes in the CATS system). View the Sprinter Schedule for more detailed schedule information.

Military facilities

Douglas International Airport is also home to Charlotte Air National Guard Base, home to the 145th Airlift Wing (145 AW), an Air Mobility Command (AMC)-gained unit of the North Carolina Air National Guard flying the C-130H Hercules tactical airlift aircraft. Charlotte ANGB is located on the east side of the airport and also provides a fully-equipped and fully-manned USAF aircraft rescue and fire fighting (ARFF) station that routinely augments the airport's civilian ARFF organization.

Over 1000 Air National Guard personnel are assigned to the 145 AW, consisting of a combination of full-time Active Guard and Reserve (AGR) and Air Reserve Technician (ART) personnel, and part-time "traditional" air national guardsmen. The unit is one of a select number of Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Command C-130 airlift wings employing the Modular Aircraft Fire Fighting System (MAFFS) in support of wildfire supression operations in the United States. The wing also maintains a world-wide deployment capability in support of Air Mobility Command and unified combatant commander tasking.

MAFFS-equipped C-130H of the 145 AW, North Carolina Air National Guard, supporting California fire fighting operations from NAS Point Mugumarker, CA.

See also



External links

  • NCDOT Airport Information:

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