As we are renovating to accommodate growth for the next 20 years, we continue to burst at the seams.
Planning for the Terminal Redevelopment and Improvement had begun when Southwest Airlines announced its move to Charleston in 2011. In 2013, four months after we broke ground on the terminal renovation, JetBlue Airlines arrived in town. The growth – both airlines and passengers – has spun up faster than a jet engine ever since.
Fast forward to 2015. The terminal redevelopment is three years into its four-year run. Progress is beginning to show in big ways with the opening of five new gates and new jet bridges on Concourse B. New ticket counters have opened, and construction has spread to every corner of the airport.
We start the year with six airlines – Delta, United, American, US Airways, Southwest and JetBlue. Then things get a little crazy.
In February, Porter Airlines began weekly nonstop Saturday service to Toronto, Canada. The seasonal flights conclude on May 2, but that’s just until next year when they are expected to start again. Porter Airlines was followed in March by Silver Airways, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based airline that began daily nonstop service to Tampa and Orlando, expanding connections to the Sunshine State.
Then this week, Alaska Airlines announced it will start nonstop service to Seattle, Wash., four days a week beginning Nov. 16. It is the first nonstop, coast-to-coast flight from Charleston.
Porter, Silver and Alaska Airlines bring to nine the number of airlines that call Charleston International Airport home. And it means we now fly nonstop to 23 airports and 18 cities in the U.S. and Canada.
New airlines, new flights and bigger jets added by our long-time airline partners mean more passengers flying in and out of CHS. Arriving and departing passengers have soared from 2 million in 2010 to a record 3.1 million in 2014.
“We’ve got to build it because they are coming,” said Paul G. Campbell Jr., director of airports for the Charleston County Aviation Authority, which owns and operates CHS along with general aviation airports on Johns Island and in Mount Pleasant. “Passengers have been telling us for a long time that they want more options when it comes to travel from Charleston. We’re thrilled to be adding new service and to be creating a great passenger experience through the airport renovation.”
When the renovation is complete later this year, CHS will have 15 gates, 15 new jet bridges, a modernized baggage handling system in baggage makeup and baggage claim, an energy efficient power plant, a new rental car pavilion, more ramp space and all new places for passengers to shop and eat.