NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Leaders at the Charleston International Airport say they are looking at ways to expand the airport and its campus to better serve the region and a growing number of passengers passing through the airport. Officials say they are seeing passenger numbers topping those from a record year in 2019.
Leaders are looking at several options from adding gates in the existing concourses to building a brand new concourse altogether. Some of the structures being considered may only be a temporary solution.
“But it’s easy exit, no problems at all,” says Sauravh Khurana a passenger who says he frequently travels through Charleston International. Khurana says the airport is among the best he travels through.
Passenger numbers at Charleston International have surpassed record numbers from 2019 at points this year during COVID-19 recovery. Officials at the airport say it’s a good problem but it has created a need for expansion.
“It’s elbow to elbow down there, I flew out on Monday to DCA and it was busy, there wasn’t a place to sit,” says Elliott Summey, Executive Director of Charleston International.
Plans for a new concourse have been discussed for years. Executive Director Elliott Summey says a growing Charleston region, whether that be passengers or new business, he says it puts a higher demand on growing the airport’s campus now rather than down the road.
“New construction you’re talking a five-to-six-year period well the business is here now,” says Director Summey.
A rooftop bar and holding rooms, expanded parking facilities, adding new gates to existing concourses, new restaurants and more are just some of options being considered.
“Virtual technology, temporary gates, temporary parking facilities – we’re looking at the whole campus holistically,” says Director Summey.
The biggest change being considered, building a temporary concourse to welcome more direct flights for growing business while making sure to increase passenger capacity.
“They have these modular buildings which with today’s technology are very beautiful, tall ceilings and you can put concessions in there,” says Director Summey. “To some extent you can even have your own TSA in there and baggage.”
Passengers say the current airport is a good footprint to add too while bringing more amenities for the passengers passing through.
“I think have more restaurants and more facilities available,” says Khurana.
Director Summey says they’ve brought in consultants to see what can be done on the campus. If officials decide to move forward with a temporary concourse structure, it would talk about 12 to 18 months to complete construction.