Business continues to grow at Charlotte Douglas International Airport, while plans for the length of a fourth parallel runway have been scaled back.
On the heels of an announcement that 46.4 million passengers passed through the airport in 2018 – representing a 1 percent increase from 2017 numbers and an all-time high for the facility – the Federal Aviation Administration disclosed it will pursue development of a new 10,000-foot runway at the airport instead of the previously planned 12,000-foot runway.
The FAA decision, based on findings that a 10,000-foot facility will accommodate aircraft expected to operate at the airport in the future, changes the scope of preliminary evaluations associated with the project from an Environmental Impact Statement to a smaller-scale Environmental Assessment (EA). The EA, expected to take about a year to complete, will be conducted by the city of Charlotte.
Erika Helm, airport communications manager, said the FAA’s adjustment does not alter plans to add a fourth parallel (north-south) runway, and the timeline for that addition will be determined in part by the EA.
The long-standing plan has been to add a fourth north-south runway and eliminate the airport’s diagonal “crosswind” runway. The planned adjustment, following a trend at national airports, will allow for more aligned air pathways and further implementation of longer approach paths.
For residents north of the airport, in the Mountain Island and Lake Norman communities, elimination of the diagonal runway is likely to result in more steady airline traffic overhead in the future. But in concert with the approach adjustments, it should also reduce the amount of late-stage altitude and alignment maneuvers that often generate higher noise levels along the landing path.
A busy place
In addition to increased passenger counts in 2018, overall aircraft movements and cargo were also up at the airport, rated the world’s seventh-busiest. In 2018, Charlotte Douglas oversaw 550,013 landings and departures, a 0.4 percent climb from 2017. Cargo activity rose 2 percent to 178,805 tons of goods transported, illustrating the continued popularity of e-commerce.
Charlotte Douglas also remains one of the fastest-growing airports in the country and continues to prepare for passenger growth. Destination CLT, a $2.5 billion development plan, is underway and the program’s first project, the expansion of Concourse A, opened in July, adding nine gates.
The construction of the Elevated Roadway and Terminal Curb Front, which will increase traffic lanes for picking up and dropping off passengers, are scheduled for completion by the end of the year. East Terminal Expansion areas will open this summer and Concourse B renovations are expected to be finished by April.