American Airlines said Thursday that it’s adding flights from Charlotte to two new U.S. cities, and that it might extend international service when it gets additional gates at Charlotte Douglas International Airport.
Starting June 7, the carrier will operate nonstop flights from Charlotte to Panama City, Fla., and South Bend, Ind. American Airlines announced the flights as part of its plans to start 52 new routes in 2018, including shuttle service from Chicago O’Hare to LaGuardia in New York.
Although American has announced new international routes, including from Philadelphia to Budapest and Dallas/Fort Worth to Reykjavik, Iceland, Vasu Raja, vice president of network and schedule planning, said Charlotte will likely have to wait for more international service.
“The airport is as full as it can be all day, every day,” he said of Charlotte Douglas International Airport. “We have certain challenges being able to operate any more international service.”
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But that could change in 2019, when American is set to receive additional gates at Charlotte Douglas after the Concourse A expansion opens. That $200 million project is under construction now, with nine new gates in the first phase north of Concourse A.
“We’ll get more gates in Charlotte, which is really important for us,” said Raja. “We’re still working on plans of where and how we would use that.”
Charlotte is American’s second-busiest hub, behind Dallas/Fort Worth. American operates more than 90 percent of the 700 or so daily flights at Charlotte Douglas. The airline has announced more domestic routes for Charlotte Douglas in recent months, including to Tucson, Ariz.
“Charlotte is an absolutely critical airport,” said Raja. “It’s a significant investment for us, and it’s not by accident...Charlotte is always going to be a large and vibrant part of this airline.”