Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) is located on the west side of Charlotte city, North Carolina, US. The airport is owned and operated by the City of Charlotte. It is one of the busiest airports in North Carolina and was ranked as the 24th busiest airport in the world in terms of passenger traffic in 2009.

The airport was established in 1936 as Charlotte Municipal Airport. The US Army Air Force established the Morris Field Air Base in 1941. It became Douglas Municipal Airport in 1954 and was again renamed Charlotte Douglas International Airport in 1981.

The airport is home to the Charlotte Air National Guard Base, located on the east side, and the US Air Force’s 145th Airlift Wing (145 AW), which is a unit of the North Carolina Air National Guard.

The airport can handle over 35 million passengers. In 2009, it recorded 34.5 million passengers, 119,550t cargo and 509,448 aircraft movements.

CLT expansion

The airport unveiled plans for a fourth runway in 2007, the construction of which began in March that year. The new runway, 18R36L, was completed in December 2009 and became fully operational in February 2010. It allows for triple independent landings and is primarily used for flight arrivals. It will also reduce arrival and departure delays, and is expected to save $65m of airline-delay avoidance costs.

“CLT was ranked as the 24th busiest airport in the world by passenger traffic in 2009.”

The $325m project, funded by the federal government and general airport revenue bonds, also includes road relocation and adjoining roadway construction.

The roadway construction includes the building of two bridges. The construction of one bridge is completed while the other is expected to be finished by the end of 2010. These bridges will allow train access to the proposed inter-modal facility.

The airport also plans to expand Concourse E, and construct a seven-storey car park and new international terminal. The new terminal construction is anticipated in 2012.

CLT terminal features

CLT has one main terminal with five concourse spaces, covering an area of 1.7 million square feet. The five concourse areas are designated as A, B, C, D and E. Each concourse is connected with the main terminal by ramps and elevators.

“In 2009, the airport recorded 34.5 million passengers, 119,550t cargo and 509,448 aircraft movements.”

Concourse D is located separately and connected to the main terminal through an underground walkway. The main terminal features a glass enclosed atrium. The upper level of the airport terminal has ticketing counters, and a check-in and departure area, while the lower level accommodates an arrival area and baggage claim.

Food and beverage outlets, including snack bars, cafés, restaurants and bars, are located in the second level of the terminal. The second floor also accommodates a duty-free outlet, gift shops, a bank and ATMs.

The airport has well-equipped conference rooms such as small office spaces and auditorium size spaces on the second floor. Executive lounges and business facilities are available in the terminals. The terminals also offer wireless internet access to passengers. Dedicated telephones, toilets, wheelchair-accessible ramps and elevators are available for the convenience of disabled passengers.

The air cargo centre, located adjacent to three runways, is spread over an area of 500,000ft². The facility has over 50 acres of aircraft ramp space. The US Customs, US Department of Immigration and Naturalization and the US Department of Agriculture are established at the facility to support air cargo operations.

“The new runway will reduce arrival and departure delays.”

Airport runways

The airport features one crosswind and three parallel runways. The runways, designated 18C/36C, 18R/36L and 18L/36R, have a length of 10,000ft, 9,000ft and 8,676ft respectively. The 5/23 is a 7,500ft-long crosswind runway.

Charlotte area transit system

The Charlotte Area Transit System operates buses from the Zone D baggage claim area, while car rental agency counters are available at the lower baggage claim level. Shuttle services are provided by licensed transportation companies. Other transportation services offered are taxis and hotel / motel courtesy vehicles.

CLT parking facilities

The airport has a new five-level parking garage with 23,500 parking spaces. The parking area consists of hourly parking, daily parking, daily north parking, long-term parking, a curbside valet, business valet and mobile phone lot areas. Free shuttle services are offered from the remote and long-term lots.