Charleston International Airport

Charleston International Airport, or CHS, is a joint civil-military airport in North Charleston, South Carolina. The airport is classified as a security-level Category I airport by the FAA, able to handle international flights. In addition, it is a focus city for Breeze Airways. There is a terminal with both departures and arrivals on the same floor. The airport is operated by the Charleston County Aviation Authority under a joint-use agreement with Joint Base Charleston, and the airport is divided in four: 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. For the 12-month period ending May 31st, 2019, the airport had 118,211 aircraft operations, 42% commercial, 28% general aviation, 16% military, and 13% air taxi. Then, there were 28 single-jet, six multi-jet, 43 jets, and four helicopters based at the airport. The airport covers 2,060 acres and has two runways: 15/33, which is 9,001 by 200 feet (concrete), and 03/21, which is 7,000 by 150 feet (concrete).

Airport history

The airport began when the Charleston Airport Corporation was founded in 1929 and promptly purchased 700 acres from a mining company. While the corporation was a private entity, the City of Charleston began selling bonds in 1931 to acquire part of the site for passenger service. The airport underwent development, and within ten years, three runways were operational and equipped with lighting for nighttime service. The airport became joint-use with the military during WWII, and after the war, the airport reverted to civilian use. In 1949 the passenger terminal was built. Sole civilian use of the airport was short-lived. During the Korean War in 1952, the airfield was reactivated for military use by an agreement over control of the base and runways that continues to this day (although it has been renegotiated over time). In 1979 the civilian portions of the airport were transferred from the City of Charleston to the Charleston County Aviation Authority, which continues to operate the airport to this day (they had operated two nearby airports at the time). In the 1980s, a new terminal was built on the south end, on land acquired by American pulp and paper company Georgia Pacific. The terminal was redeveloped over a three-year period ending in 2016, adding five gates and updating the interior of the building at the cost of $200 million. Throughout the history of CHS, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines and their predecessors and affiliates have served the airport. There was some service from other airlines over the years, including brief spells of international service - Air Canada began service in 2001. Still, it ended immediately following the September 11th attacks, while Porter Airlines briefly scheduled flights to Toronto in 2015. From April 2019 to December 2020, British Airlines flew seasonally to London Heathrow for the summer. 

Airport location

The airport is located 12 miles northwest of downtown Charleston. 

Airport facts

  • In 2009, Boeing announced it would build a significant assembly site on 265 acres as a second final assembly site for its 787 Dreamliner, with operations beginning in July 2011. 
  • The airport is the busiest in South Carolina and served 4.9 million passengers in 2019, its busiest year on record. 
  • In 2020, a 20 master plan was announced by CHS, with the construction of a new concourse that would add 11 gates, provide additional plane stands, and add more parking facilities for vehicles. 
  • The airport hosts an extensive permanent art collection from some of the most well-renowned local artists, and it also displays historical discoveries courtesy of the Charleston Heritage Foundation.

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