As part of a massive $700 million rebuilding and renovation, Charlotte Douglas International Airport unveiled this week new amenities planned for passengers, including revamped restaurants, new public art and new seats with their own cellphone chargers.
The airport said the renovations and expansion can help the airport grow for three or four decades. The cost will mostly be paid by passengers through fees – not Charlotte taxpayers.
▪ One of the biggest CLT projects is a new nine-gate concourse under construction just north of Concourse A. The new gates will house carriers other than American Airlines, and are being built in a modern, spacious style with 30-foot high ceilings. That’s more spacious than concourses A, B and C, which have 12-foot high ceilings.
“For a domestic concourse this is a different type of space,” said Jack Christine, the deputy aviation director. “It’s similar to the international concourse.”
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Airport officials unveiled Monday the new public art for the concourse, by Turkish digital artist Refik Anadol. The airport said it’s one of the largest “data sculptures” in the world and will be displayed on several LED screens.
“This is like a big display that you might see in Times Square,” said Haley Gentry, the airport’s Deputy Aviation Director/Chief Business and Information Officer.
It will run alongside the walkway that connects the new concourse to the main terminal. It’s meant for passengers inside but will be visible to cars approaching the terminal through windows.
The concourse is scheduled to open in May. When it’s done and carriers like Delta, United and Southwest move there, American Airlines is expected to back-fill most of the 12 gates in the old section of Concourse A.
▪ Today, Concourse E for regional jets is attached to the main terminal by only two escalators – one up and one down – and one set of stairs and one elevator. That was enough capacity when the concourse had 25 gates.
But now it has 42 gates, with plans to build three more, and the airport will add two escalators, two new stairs and another elevator. That will be finished in about 2 1/2 years, the airport said.
The airport is also building a new food court for the concourse.
▪ New gates in Concourses A and E will create more space for restaurants and stores. The airport’s retail and restaurant contractors, Paradies and HMS Host, are also planning to change a number of existing retail and food spaces.
The new gates at Concourse A will include a Starbucks, Panera Bread, SmashBurger, Jamba Juice and a local bar. A new food court for Concourses D and E will have a Potbelly, Bojangles’, Shake Shack and a local brewery that hasn’t been determined.
Some long-standing brands will be leaving the airport.
On Concourse B, California Pizza Kitchen will be replaced by Stella Barra Pizzeria. The Stock Car Cafe will be become either a Whisky River restaurant or a bar/restaurant branded with the Carolina Panthers.
On Concourse C, Pork and Pickle will replace Phillips Seafood and an unknown restaurant will replace Sbarro. In the airport’s main atrium, La Familia will replace the Tequileria.
The new food court for concourses D and E will have a steel and aluminum “kinetic sculpture” by artist Christian Moeller. It’s inspired by the contrails that planes leave in the sky.
▪ The airport plans to remodel Concourses A, B and C, the oldest of which is 35 years old. The airport has already started work on Concourse B, by ripping up carpet. That will be replaced by Terrazo floor.
The airport also plans to install new seats that will have their own phone chargers. It also plans to raise the ceilings slightly – by nearly a foot – to make the concourse feel more open.
By 2024, the airport plans to widen concourses B and C by pushing the walls out.
▪ The airport is spending $800,000 with a consultant to study technology upgrades at its parking lots and decks. The airport is considering charging different prices for different parts of parking decks, offering online reservations and automated payments with license plate readers.
▪ In the long term, the airport plans to completely remake and expand the main terminal, built in 1982. The airport will expand the height and width of the terminal to provide far more space.
Today, there are five security checkpoints. When the terminal is finished in four years, the airport will have the same number of security lanes – 17 – but they will be consolidated into three checkpoints.