Charlotte Douglas International Airport announced new details and renderings this week about a proposed airport overlook project expected to open at the airport in 2024, as well as updates to large-scale projects in the airport’s terminals and airfield.
Construction of Charlotte’s fifth dedicated overlook is currently pending approval from Charlotte City Council but is tentatively scheduled to begin in late summer or early fall of this year, according to a release put out by the airport on Monday.
The new overlook will feature views of future and existing runways, Charlotte’s skyline and the airport’s terminals, but will offer more than just perspectives, including two new playgrounds, a food truck staging area with picnic tables, pet relief areas and more.
The site will also feature aircraft displays and exhibits highlighting aviation history in the Carolinas, including a memorial to USAir Flight 1016, which crashed while trying to land at Charlotte Douglas during a thunderstorm in July 1994, killing 37 of the 57 people aboard.
The most recent overlook, located off Old Dowd Road, stood for 30 years before it was closed in October 2022 to make way for the construction of the North End-Around Taxiway and future fourth parallel runway, which will be viewable from the new overlook.
A temporary outlook area for plane watchers currently stands at the corner of Old Dowd Road and Airport Overlook Drive and will remain until the new overlook opens, according to the release. The new overlook will be located west of the old location, which was on Airport Overlook Drive.
During a budget presentation to Charlotte City Council on Monday, April 24, Charlotte Douglas CEO Haley Gentry said that, with major indoor projects nearing their end — a portion of the long-awaited $600-million terminal expansion project is expected to open in the fall with the rest slated for 2025 — the airport is looking now to shift its focus to airfield improvements.
That includes the fourth parallel runway, a project that will cost around $672 million and is anticipated to be Charlotte’s largest runway at 150 feet wide and 10,000 feet long.
Completion of the runway is scheduled for 2027 and will include two end-around taxiways and the relocation of sections of West Boulevard and Old Down Road, at least one of which appears to run under the runway, according to renderings shown by Gentry on Monday.
Gentry estimated that the runway will save the city $5.5 billion in delay savings.
“It represents tremendous capacity and efficiency gains,” Gentry said. “Less fuel burns, less crew time, more efficiency on the airfield, less time sitting on the airplane for your passengers.”
In 2022, the Charlotte Douglas International Airport served 47.7 million people and expects this year to surpass the record number of 50 million passengers reached in 2019, with record bookings scheduled for the summer, Gentry said.
“We are certainly back from COVID,” she added.
Gentry added that the airport puts out 5% of the state’s entire gross domestic product, making an estimated annual economic impact of $32 billion. Despite those numbers, workers there are regularly made to address Charlotte City Council and hold rallies near the airport to protest for better wages and benefits.
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