Charlotte Douglas International Airport's $2.5 billion expansion will hit a big milestone in a few weeks - the opening of an expanded Concourse A.
The $130 million project is the next phase of the airport's expansion program, called Destination CLT. City Aviation Director Brent Cagle said it's scheduled to open in July.
"By the numbers, it will add nine gates which is about a nine to 10 percent increase in total number of gates at CLT. So it will give us increased capacity to allow American Airlines and all the airlines serving CLT to grow,” Cagle said Monday on WFAE’s “Charlotte Talks.”
Cagle talked about the expansion program, future growth, and last month’s flurry of flight cancellations at PSA airlines, a subsidiary of American. More than 2,000 flights were canceled over five days after a computer system that schedules flight crews broke down. Cagle said the airport implemented its "irregular operations plan," which is typically used during bad weather or mechanical malfunctions.
That plan calls for airport officials to make sure hotels were ready and to distribute pillows, blankets and other supplies to stranded passengers. Officials also kept security checkpoints, shops and restaurants open longer.
Still, there were a lot of unhappy customers, Cagle said. “We have some lessons learned, and I think it's safe to say that American Airlines and PSA have some lessons learned. What became unique about this event was that it carried on for four or five days,” he said.
Cagle also gave a preview of renovations still to come on all the other concourses at the Charlotte airport, and noted one other fact about its growth: As a hub for American Airlines, it’s now the 10th busiest airport in the U.S. While overall traffic is rising 1 to 2 percent a year, Cagle said local passenger traffic is rising about 5 percent a year.
You can listen to Cagle's full interview with guest host Erik Spanberg at WFAE.org.