American Airlines Merger, Passport Kiosks Boost Charlotte Airport
This summer, US Airways has boosted trans-Atlantic service, adding flights to Barcelona, Brussels, Lisbon and Manchester, England, although slow bookings resulted in cuts -- announced last month -- in frequencies and in how many weeks the flights would last. Still, Charlotte will have summer service to 11 European destinations including Munich on Lufthansa.
Ten days ago, US Airways Express it will start service from Charlotte to three Midwest destinations: Grand Rapids, Mich. and Evansville and Fort Wayne, Ind. In February, American said it would add Charlotte to Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Okla. All five cities are in areas with a strong American presence but limited access to the Southeast. Also, service to Little Rock, Ark., has increased.
In an interview, Brett Cagle, Charlotte Douglas aviation director, said that so far the impact of the merger on the airport has been minimal, with American and US Airways still operating separately.
One change has been that cities such as Fayetteville, N.C., lost their non-stops to Washington Reagan National because the Justice Department required US Airways to give up DCA slots in the merger. So Fayetteville-DCA passengers now connect in Charlotte. Also, Cagle said, more American planes are occupying US Airways gates, which can confuse passengers.
Still, Cagle plans a new airport concourse next to the existing A concourse. "The airport is big enough to accommodate growth but we need to continue growing," he said. The new concourse would add 20 to 25 gates to the existing 96 gates. The earliest work, on the ramp, should begin in the next 12 months.Currently, the most visible airport project is parking lot additions: Construction has led to frequent traffic delays. "It has been very messy," Cagle conceded. The biggest problem has been that backups at the hourly parking lot result in drivers circling the airport.
However, a new closed-in hourly garage is scheduled to open in early November. The number of airport parking spaces will grow from 21,000 today to 28,000 by spring 2015.
Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.
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