Charlotte Douglas International Airport broke ground on a new runway on Friday.
Why it matters: It’s a roughly $1 billion project, a major development aimed to bolster the amount of air traffic the airport can handle. Once the runway opens, it will reduce wait times for planes departing and taking off by at least four minutes, per airport CEO Haley Gentry.
Zoom out: This is part of a larger overhaul at the airport, a $3.5 billion capital investment project called Destination CLT.
- The groundbreaking marked a milestone for the airport, as it’s the final Destination CLT project. The event drew airport and government officials alike, including U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis.
What they’re saying: “I’ll pause for the sound of economic development,” Tillis said at the groundbreaking as a plane took off. He credited the airport with providing multiple daily flight options for him to travel to and from Washington, D.C.
Yes, but: The airport is starting the project without guaranteed additional federal funding. Gentry hopes federal funding will ultimately cover roughly 50% of the project. The likely airport wouldn’t see that money until 2025, per Gentry.
- The new runway will be funded by future general airport revenue bonds, passenger facility charge revenue and federal airport improvement program grants.
Between the lines: CLT ranks No. 7 as the world’s busiest airport for arrivals and departures worldwide, per the Airports Council International (ACI) 2022 preliminary rankings (a slight drop from its No. 5 rank last year).
By the numbers: 505,589 aircraft arrivals and departures and nearly 48 million passengers came through Charlotte Douglas in 2022, per the airport.
- The addition of the new runway will add even more air travelers at CLT.
Details: The fourth parallel runway is expected to be complete in 2027. It will be 10,000 feet long and 150 feet wide. It’ll be west of runway 18C/36C, and it includes the north and south end-around taxiways, or routes around the runways where planes taxi.
- Construction is underway on the north end-around the taxiway, and construction is scheduled to begin in December 2024 on the south end-around taxiway, which will require relocating one mile of West Boulevard.
- Because CLT is expanding its airfield, it also needs to add another aircraft rescue and fire-fighting facility to assist in the event of airfield emergencies.
The big picture: CLT kicked off Destination CLT in 2015. Completed projects include the first phase of the Concourse A expansion, several concourse renovations, a new food court called The Plaza and several roadways.
- The Terminal Lobby Expansion project, which includes the addition of a roadway canopy and overhauled security checkpoints, is about halfway done, per CLT.
- The second phase of the Concourse A expansion will wrap up in fall 2024.