City Council approves next phase of new airport concourse Monday

A rendering of the proposed new concourse at Charlotte Douglas International Airport, provided by the airport.
A rendering of the proposed new concourse at Charlotte Douglas International Airport, provided by the airport. Charlotte Douglas International Airport

Charlotte City Council approved spending $7.8 million on the next piece of a major airport expansion plan Monday: a new concourse that will add gates where rental cars once parked.

The concourse will be located just north of the existing Concourse A, with nine new gates for jets to load and unload passengers. Charlotte Douglas International Airport currently has 96 gates, so the additional capacity will push it over 100.

Charlotte Douglas is starting a big new round of construction that’s expected to take the next decade to complete. The airport will expand the roadway in front of the terminal from three lanes to eight, add tunnels and skybridges for pedestrians, expand the terminal lobby and add a fourth parallel runway.

City Council oversees Charlotte Douglas, which is operated as an independently funded city department. The airport’s revenue mostly comes from fees the airlines pay, state and federal grants, parking and concessions sales.

At its meeting Monday, City Council unanimously approved a $7.8 million contract with Perkins+Will North Carolina to complete design work for the first phase of Concourse A North, as the project is called.

The satellite concourse will be built on land that was occupied by rental cars until this summer. The airport’s 7,000-space new hourly parking deck, built across from the terminal, includes spots for 3,000 rental cars. In addition to allowing passengers to walk to rental cars instead of taking a shuttle bus, putting the rental cars in the hourly deck freed some surface parking lots for development.

Charlotte Douglas said airlines have been requesting more gates, driving the expansion plans. The new, 211,000-square-foot Concourse A North will be connected to Concourse A. In addition to the gates, the facilities will include concessions and office space.

Interim aviation director Brent Cagle said Monday the airport hasn’t determined which airlines will move into the new gates.

The airport’s plans call for a second phase of Concourse A North, which would add an additional 16 gates. Construction on the $140 million first phase is scheduled to start in January and last for 18 months, funded by airport revenue bonds.

The second, 16-gate phase could start construction in 2020.

As American Airlines’ second-busiest hub, Charlotte Douglas is a key connection point for passengers traveling to and from the Southeast, with 44.3 million passengers last year. The airport is the seventh busiest in the world in terms of takeoffs and landings.

Ely Portillo: 704-358-5041, @ESPortillo