New concourse is latest chapter in Charlotte airport’s growth

Demolition for Concourse A expansion begins at Charlotte Douglas International Airport

Expansion will take place at former rental car sites at airport
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Expansion will take place at former rental car sites at airport

With a cry of “Tear it down, boys,” Charlotte Douglas International Airport officials started demolition on a set of old rental car buildings and kicked off construction of the airport’s newest gates.

The new concourse is on the site of the former airport car rental facility, north of Concourse A. The cars, fueling stations and offices that used to be there have been moved to the hourly parking deck and a new satellite facility on Wilkinson Boulevard, freeing up that space for new construction.

“We’re all gathered here today to start another milestone in our development,” said Deputy Aviation Director Jack Christine, standing in front of a pair of backhoes ready to claw the old Budget rental car office to pieces. “We need to remove a lot of the structures you see.”

The new concourse is just one of the projects Charlotte Douglas has under construction. It’s part of Destination CLT, a $2.5 billion plan that will guide airport expansion into the 2020s. Charlotte Douglas has seen its traffic grow rapidly, first as the busiest hub for US Airways and now as the second-busiest hub for American Airlines.

Last year, a record 44.9 million passengers used Charlotte Douglas, most of them connecting from one flight to another. That’s up from 28 million passengers in 2005, an increase of 60 percent in 10 years.

Some of the major projects now underway or preparing to start soon include:

▪ More gates: The new concourse that kicked off Monday is set to open in 2018 with nine gates, which will serve the non-American Airlines traffic at Charlotte Douglas. It’s a $200 million project, paid for with bonds funded through airport revenues and a $3 passenger facility charge levied on each passenger. A series of moving walkways will connect the new building to Concourse A.

▪ A wider road in front of the terminal: The airport is building an eight-lane elevated road in front of the terminal, expanding it from its current three lanes. Concrete columns and support pillars are rising out of the ground for the new lanes. The $50 million expansion is set to open in summer 2018.

▪ Taller control tower: A new control tower, funded by the Federal Aviation Administration, will be operational by 2020. The FAA is building a 367-foot tower, more than twice the height of the current 150-foot control tower.

▪ A new, longer runway: Charlotte Douglas officials are planning for a fourth parallel runway, which they hope to start building in 2020. That’s a $422 million project that could be complete in fall 2022.

▪ A bigger terminal lobby: In 2018, the airport plans to start a terminal lobby expansion that will cost $247 million and expand the lobby outward to give more space for ticketing, security and baggage claim.

▪ Even more gates: In the 2020s, Charlotte Douglas also plans to add up to 22 more gates at concourses B and C, as well as further expand the new concourse that started Monday to bring it up to a total of 24 gates.

Ely Portillo: 704-358-5041, @ESPortillo