Charleston International Airport

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For the airport of Charleston, West Virginia, see Yeager Airport.
Charleston International Airport


CHS is located in South Carolina
Location of the Charleston International Airport
Airport type Public / Military
Owner Charleston County
Joint Base Charleston
Operator Charleston County Aviation Authority
Location North Charleston, S.C. (US)
Elevation AMSL 46 ft / 14 m
Coordinates 32°53′55″N 080°02′26″W / 32.89861°N 80.04056°W / 32.89861; -80.04056
Website Charleston Int'l Airport
FAA airport diagram
FAA airport diagram
Direction Length Surface
ft m
03/21 7,004 2,135 Asphalt
15/33 9,001 2,744 Concrete
Statistics (2014)
Passengers 3,131,072
Aircraft operations
(incl. military)
Source: Charleston Co. Aviation Authority[1]

Charleston International Airport (IATA: CHSICAO: KCHSFAA LID: CHS) is a joint civil-military airport located in North Charleston, South Carolina. It has two runways and is operated by the Charleston County Aviation Authority under a joint-use agreement with Charleston Field, a facility of Joint Base Charleston.[2] It is South Carolina's largest and busiest airport; in 2014 the airport served 3,131,072 passengers in its busiest year on record.[3] The airport is located in North Charleston and is approximately 12 miles (20 km) northwest of downtown Charleston. The airport is also home to the Boeing South Carolina facility that assembles the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.[4]


In 1928, the Charleston Airport Corporation was founded and purchased 700 acres of land previously belonging to a mining company. Although privately developed at first, the City of Charleston floated bonds in 1931 to acquire a portion of the site for passenger service. Within ten years, three runways were paved and outfitted with lighting for nighttime operations. In World War II, control of the airfield passed to the United States Army though civilian service was allowed to continue to use the airfield. After the war, the airfield reverted to civilian use for a short time. In 1949, a new passenger terminal was built.

During the Korean War, the airfield was reactivated for military use and in 1952, the City of Charleston and the United States Air Force reached an agreement on control of the base and the runways—an arrangement that has been renegotiated over time and that continues to this day. In 1979, the civilian portions of the airport were transferred from the City of Charleston to the Charleston County Aviation Authority, which had operated two other airports in the area. The current terminal on the south end of the airport was built in the 1980s on land acquired by Georgia Pacific.[5]

In October 2009, Boeing announced that it would build a major plant on 265 acres at the airport as a second final assembly site for its 787 Dreamliner commercial aircraft. The facility began limited operations in July 2011 and rolled out its first completed aircraft in April 2012. Additional facilities to complement aircraft assembly have since been announced by the company.[4]

Throughout its history, all three domestic legacy carriers (American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines) and their predecessor companies or affiliates have served Charleston International Airport. Aside from the legacy carriers, Charleston has seen periods of additional air service from other carriers, but prior to 2010, those services were short-lived. Air South served the airport in 1995 and 1996 before folding. In 2001, Air Canada briefly served the airport from Toronto but ended service immediately after the September 11th attacks. Independence Air served the airport in 2005 and 2006, when the airline folded. AirTran Airways served the airport from 2007 to 2009.[6]

Since 2010, the airport has seen significant growth in passenger figures. New service from Southwest Airlines, JetBlue Airways, and Silver Airways along with increased services from the three legacy carriers have contributed to this growth. In 2015, Charleston saw a resumption of international service with Porter Airlines offering seasonal flights to Toronto.[7] In April 2015, Alaska Airlines announced it would serve Charleston from Seattle/Tacoma beginning in November 2015, establishing the first non-stop west coast route from the airport.[8]

Facilities and aircraft[edit]


The airfield consists of four general areas: the military area to the west, the airline terminal to the south, the general aviation area to the east, and the Boeing assembly area further to the south. The combined airfield area of Charleston International Airport and Charleston Field covers 2,060 acres (830 ha) and has two runways: 15/33, 9,001 x 200 ft (2,744 x 61 m) and 03/21, 7,004 x 150 ft (2,135 x 46 m).[9]

In 2014 the airport had 105,782 aircraft operations, an average of 290 per day. Among itinerant operations, the traffic consisted of the following: 28.1% air carrier, 22.9% air taxi, 21.4% general aviation, and 14.2% military. About 13.3% of these flights were local operations, where the origin and destination were the same.[1]

Joint Base Charleston owns and operates the runways at the airport and has an agreement with the Charleston County Aviation Authority to allow civilian use of the field. General aviation services are operated by the Charleston County Aviation Authority. Boeing South Carolina operates the Boeing assembly area.

Passenger terminal[edit]

The current airline terminal was built in 1987 and was designed by Howard Needles Tammen & Bergendoff, Davis & Floyd, Inc., and Lucas & Stubbs.[10][11] In 2013, the Charleston County Aviation Authority approved a $189 million Terminal Redevelopment and Improvement Program (TRIP) which will upgrade amenities and facilities in phases over a three-year period.[12]

Both departures and arrivals are located on the same floor, with the departure area to the east end of the terminal and the arrival area to the west end. Flights from the airline terminal depart from two concourses: Concourse A on the right (east) and Concourse B on the left (west). Since April 2015, a consolidated TSA security checkpoint is utilized for both concourses.[13] Charleston International Airport is classified as a security-level Category I airport by the TSA. The airport is equipped to handle international flights.

Airlines and destinations[edit]


View of the airfield from the passenger terminal
View of Charleston Field, a U.S. Air Force base
Airlines Destinations Concourse
Alaska Airlines Seattle/Tacoma (begins November 16, 2015)[14] TBA
American Eagle Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami B
Delta Air Lines Atlanta, New York-JFK A
Delta Connection Detroit, New York-LaGuardia
Seasonal: Boston
JetBlue Airways Boston, Fort Lauderdale (begins November 19, 2015),[15] New York-JFK, Washington-National B
Porter Airlines Seasonal: Toronto-Billy Bishop B
Silver Airways Orlando, Tampa A
Southwest Airlines Baltimore, Chicago-Midway, Dallas-Love, Nashville
Seasonal: Houston-Hobby
United Express Chicago-O'Hare, Houston-Intercontinental, Newark, Washington-Dulles
Seasonal: Cleveland
US Airways Express1 Charlotte, Philadelphia, Washington-National B

^1 All US Airways Express flights will be rebranded as American Eagle flights effective October 17, 2015.


Airlines Destinations
Atlas Air Grottaglie, McConnell AFB, Paine Field
FedEx Express Memphis, Nashville
Martinaire for UPS Airlines Greenville/Spartanburg, Columbia (SC)
Suburban Air Freight Atlanta, Savannah


Airline market share[edit]

Carrier shares: April 2014 – March 2015[16]
Carrier Passengers (arriving and departing)
Delta Air Lines
Southwest Airlines
ExpressJet (Delta or United)
PSA (American or US Airways)
Other carriers

Top domestic destinations[edit]

Top ten busiest routes out of CHS
(April 2014 – March 2015)[16]
Rank City Passengers Carriers
1 Georgia (U.S. state) Atlanta, GA 400,000 Delta
2 North Carolina Charlotte, NC 203,000 US Airways
3 Maryland Baltimore, MD 123,000 Southwest
4 New York New York (JFK), NY 118,000 Delta, JetBlue
5 Virginia Washington (National), DC 118,000 JetBlue, US Airways
6 Illinois Chicago (Midway), IL 67,000 Southwest
7 Illinois Chicago (O'Hare), IL 62,000 United
8 Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA 57,000 US Airways
9 Virginia Washington-Dulles 56,000 United
10 New York New York (LaGuardia), NY 56,000 Delta

Annual traffic[edit]

Annual passenger traffic (enplaned + deplaned) and aircraft operations at Charleston Airport, 2003 thru 2014[17]
Year Passengers Operations Year Passengers Operations
2010 2,021,328 101,982
2009 2,190,251 98,431
2008 2,334,219 108,438
2007 2,275,541 112,229
2006 1,877,631 110,254
2005 2,143,105 120,849
2014 3,131,072 105,782 2004 1,828,597 123,689
2013 2,913,265 104,287 2003 1,616,255 120,188
2012 2,593,063 105,223
2011 2,520,829 105,019

Ground transportation[edit]


Charleston International Airport is located near the interchange of Interstate 26 and Interstate 526 and is accessible from both interstates using International Boulevard and Montague Avenue exits. The airport does offer a free cell phone parking lot for passenger pickups. For short-term and long-term parking, the airport offers surface or garage parking for up to 30 days. Rental cars from major companies are available. The airport completed a rental car pavilion adjacent to the terminal in 2014.[18]


CARTA, the regional mass transit system, serves the airport with two bus routes that operate seven days a week from 6:00 a.m. to midnight.

  • CARTA Express Route 4, also known as North Area Shuttle (NASH) Express is an express service to downtown Charleston with stops at the North Charleston Visitors Center and at the Tanger Outlets. Total trip time from the airport to downtown is usually 25–35 minutes. As of 2014, a one-way fare is $3.00.
  • CARTA Route 11 is a local service that connects the airport to downtown Charleston with several stops along Dorchester Road and Meeting Street in North Charleston. Total trip time from the airport to downtown is usually 50–55 minutes. As of 2014, a one-way fare is $1.75


Taxis and shuttles are available from CHS to Charleston and other destinations in the Lowcountry. Fixed rates are set by the Charleston County Aviation Authority for most major destinations.

Related facilities[edit]

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • On September 11, 1974, Eastern Air Lines Flight 212, a flight originating in Charleston and headed to Chicago with a stopover in Charlotte, crashed on approach in dense fog conditions near Douglas Municipal Airport (now Charlotte/Douglas International Airport). Of the 78 passengers and four crew members aboard the Douglas DC-9 aircraft, 72 were killed.


  1. ^ a b "2013 Operations Report". 
  2. ^ "Joint Civilian/Military (Joint-use) Airports". Airport Improvement Program. Federal Aviation Administration. March 6, 2002. Retrieved September 29, 2008. 
  3. ^ "Charleston airport surpasses 3 passengers for the first time". Warren L. Wise. Charleston Post & Courier. February 2, 2015. Retrieved February 3, 2015. 
  4. ^ a b
  5. ^ "Airport History". Chs Airport. 
  6. ^ "AirTran pulling out of Charleston". WCSC. October 9, 2009. Retrieved September 24, 2013. 
  7. ^ "Charleston airport lands second new airline in a month". Retrieved January 21, 2015. 
  8. ^ "Alaska Airlines adding nonstop service between Charleston and Seattle". Retrieved April 28, 2015. 
  9. ^ FAA Airport Master Record for CHS (Form 5010 PDF), effective December 20, 2007
  10. ^ "Airport History". 
  11. ^ Wiesenthal, Eric (December 26, 1981). "Airport Taking Shape". The Post and Courier. Retrieved June 14, 2012. 
  12. ^ "Aviation Authority launches renovation timeline website – WCIV-TV | ABC News 4 – Charleston News, Sports, Weather". ABC News 4. 
  13. ^ "Consolidated TSA checkpoint opens April 15". Retrieved April 28, 2015. 
  14. ^ "Alaska Airlines Plans New Domestic Routes from Sep 2015". April 28, 2015. Retrieved April 28, 2015. 
  15. ^;_ylt=AwrC1CiqSp9VRR0ARVnQtDMD;_ylu=X3oDMTBybGY3bmpvBGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwMyBHZ0aWQDBHNlYwNzcg--
  16. ^ a b "RITA | BTS | Transtats". 
  17. ^ Operations Reports. Retrieved on Apr 3, 2015.
  18. ^ "First phase of Charleston airport overhaul to be completed by mid-March". Warren L. Wise. Charleston Post & Courier. February 10, 2014. Retrieved February 13, 2014. 

External links[edit]