In response to “New neighborhoods hear airport noise” (Feb. 4) and related articles:
Companies move to Charlotte and expand in Charlotte primarily for three reasons. First, our cost of living is 95 percent of the national average. Second, our workforce is large, growing and increasingly young and diverse.
Third, and perhaps most important, is the presence of our No. 1 economic development asset, Charlotte Douglas International Airport. Our airport, which is the second-largest hub for the largest airline in the world, provides a level of air service that far exceeds our population size. This gives companies convenient access to markets throughout North America and the rest of the world. We enjoy more than 700 flights per day to more than 165 destinations.
Even if you don’t fly, you should recognize Charlotte Douglas is important because it serves as one of the largest economic engines in the region. CLT is a direct employment center for more than 29,000 people and large regional employers attribute another 195,000 jobs indirectly to the excellent air service CLT offers. In addition to the positive employment numbers, a recent University of North Carolina at Charlotte study determined the economic impact of the airport to the region is $16.2 billion annually. And, the City of Charlotte is making significant investments to improve and expand the airport’s infrastructure to better serve the flying public and to allow for continued growth.
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With any urban airport, the topic of aircraft noise and its impact on neighborhoods requires discussion. CLT is no exception. The airport, American Airlines and the FAA are at the table with citizens to discuss the noise issues faced by some neighborhoods. These conversations take time given various technical, safety, operational and impact questions. But all parties involved understand the significance of the discussions because quality neighborhoods and a high quality of life are also important assets to Charlotte and our economic competitiveness.
As these discussions take place, however, it is important to remember just how important the airport is to the continued growth and vitality of our economy. We should find balance between the impact of noise, access to world-class air service at CLT and the airport’s ability to retain its competitive advantage while continuing to serve as a major economic engine for the region.
Morgan is CEO of the Charlotte Chamber.