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Charlotte Douglas airport says passenger numbers are near pre-pandemic levels


Charlotte Douglas International Airport is starting to see its travel numbers return to normal after the COVID-19 pandemic. The fifth-busiest airport in the world, based on takeoffs and landings, nearly broke its passenger record in 2022.

“What we’ve experienced over the past three years really demonstrates the resiliency of this airport and the aviation industry as a whole,” airport CEO Haley Gentry said in a statement.

Total Travel:

  • CLT had nearly 47.8 million passengers in 2022, a 10% uptick compared to 43 million in 2021. 
  • 2022’s passenger numbers were only 5% shy of the 2019 record of 50.2 million.
  • Business passengers made up 27% of passenger traffic, up 6% compared to 2021.

International Travel:

  • There were 1.7 million international travelers at CLT last year, up 73% compared to 2021’s 1 million. 
Source: CLT
Annual Reports

Despite the near-record numbers of passengers, aircraft movements (takeoffs and landings) dipped slightly in 2022.

  • CLT saw 505,589 total aircraft movement last year, a 3% decline from 2021. The reason behind the slight decrease were airlines cutting back numerous flights and also replacing multiple smaller jets with fewer, larger ones on some routes.  American Airlines, Charlotte’s main carrier, cut nearly 1,000 flights from CLT  American Airlines' fall schedule last year. 


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Airlines also added additional service from CLT. Spirit Airlines began new daily flights to LaGuardia International Airport and Miami International Airport in November.

While passengers are the main commodity at CLT, cargo operations saw a significant increase with 207,608 tons of air cargo transported last year. That’s up 17% compared to 178,124 tons in 2021.

Airport officials believe they’ll fully recover from the pandemic this year, as opposed to their original projection of 2024.

“Our numbers are definitely headed in the right direction,” Gentry said. “Throughout the pandemic, we’ve outperformed national trends, and we’re showing no signs of slowing down in 2023. The hub continues growing as more and more passengers are eager and ready to return to the skies.”

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Kenny is a Maryland native who began his career in media as a sportswriter at Tuskegee University, covering SIAC sports working for the athletic department and as a sports correspondent for the Tuskegee Campus Digest. Following his time at Tuskegee, he was accepted to the NASCAR Diversity Internship Program as a Marketing Intern for The NASCAR Foundation in Daytona Beach, Florida in 2017.