An unprecedented four-year project to transform South Carolina’s largest airport into a modern, sophisticated hub of air travel for its 3.5 million passengers and the greater Charleston community is now complete.
The Terminal Redevelopment and Improvement Program took place during a time of rapid and unexpected growth for Charleston International Airport and the greater Charleston region. Since 2000, passenger growth has skyrocketed 70 percent to last year’s record of 3.4 million fliers. The terminal transformation came just in time. Today, the Charleston County Aviation Authority rededicated the airport and held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the end of construction.
“When we started construction in 2012 we were planning for our future. The future arrived earlier than we anticipated,” said Paul G. Campbell Jr., executive director and CEO of the Aviation Authority. “On behalf of our staff, everyone who works at Charleston International and those whose labors made all of this possible, I am proud to be able to rededicate and present this wonderful new airport to the community.”
More than 1,500 people made up the construction teams that helped build and renovate the airport. Work began in 2012. Since then, airport footprint has grown by 100,000 square feet to include a new Rental Car Pavilion, a consolidated TSA security screening checkpoint and entirely new front curb to greet passengers. In addition, the airport has increased its passenger boarding gates from 10 to 15, installed all new jet bridges and expanded its baggage handling system. The Ticket Hall has been rebuilt along with a new central marketplace of shopping and dining featuring many local brands.
The centerpiece of the renovation is the new Central Hall, which is accented by an 18-foot-tall dome that provides natural light to create an open and bright facility. The two-story windows and glass walls give passengers and visitors wonderful expansive views of the airport runway.
“This airport can now compete with the best in the nation. It’s always been a great place. It’s even better now,” said Billy Swails, chairman of the Aviation Authority Board. “Passengers will continue to experience the genuine Charleston hospitality we are known for. Now they will also have a great flying experience because of the amenities and conveniences that Charleston International now offers.”
Today, Charleston International is home to DeSano Pizza Bakery, Samuel Adams Grill and Bar, Dunkin Donuts, Burger King, Caviar and Bananas, Harvest & Grounds, Jack Nicklaus Golden Bear Grill; and coming soon, Charleston Beer Works. Among the shopping amenities are two (with a third on the way) Hudson stores for news and gifts, Veranda News—Discover Charleston, Eddie Bauer, Tech on the Go and Low Country Harley-Davidson.
Travelers can fly to 16 cities and connect to places around the world at 21 airports in the United States. Six airlines make that possible: Delta Air Lines, American, United, Southwest, JetBlue and Alaska Airlines combined have more than 160 daily arrivals and departures. During construction a half dozen new airline routes were added and the airlines have begun to fly larger aircraft in and out of CHS, creating more opportunities for both leisure and business travelers.
“We are proud of the role the airport has played in the history of the Charleston region. And we are grateful for the support we’ve received from the community as we’ve changed to meet the challenges, especially those in the last few years as we’ve really seen an explosion of growth and progress in the region,” Campbell said. “We are committed to continuing to be a partner to local government, the visitor industry, the business community and all those who work together to turn challenge and change into opportunity.
Photo credit: @2016 Stan Foxworthy/Designer: Fentress Architects