Charleston International Airport

Charleston International Airport (IATA: CHS, ICAO: KCHS, FAA LID: CHS) is a joint civil-military airport located in North Charleston, South Carolina. The airport is operated by the Charleston County Aviation Authority under a joint-use agreement with Joint Base Charleston.[3] It is South Carolina's largest and busiest airport; in 2018 the airport served nearly 4.5 million passengers in its busiest year on record.[4] The airport is located in North Charleston and is approximately 12 miles (19 km) northwest of downtown Charleston. The airport is also home to the Boeing facility that assembles the 787 Dreamliner.[5]

Charleston International Airport
Charleston International Airport Logo.png
Airport typePublic / Military
OwnerCharleston County
Joint Base Charleston
OperatorCharleston County Aviation Authority
LocationNorth Charleston, S.C. (US)
Elevation AMSL46 ft / 14 m
Coordinates32°53′55″N 080°02′26″W / 32.89861°N 80.04056°W / 32.89861; -80.04056
CHS is located in South Carolina
Location of the Charleston International Airport
Direction Length Surface
ft m
03/21 7,000 2,134 Concrete
15/33 9,001 2,744 Concrete
Statistics (2018)
Aircraft operations
(incl. military)
Source: Charleston Co. Aviation Authority,[1] Federal Aviation Administration[2]


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.[6]

View of Charleston Field, a U.S. Air Force base

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.[5]

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. The airport has had brief periods of international service. In 2001, Air Canada briefly served the airport from Toronto but ended service immediately after the September 11th attacks. Porter Airlines briefly served Charleston with flights to Toronto in 2015.

Since 2010, the airport's passenger figures have doubled.[4] New services established by additional airlines during this time along with increased services from the three legacy carriers have contributed to this growth. As of 2019, the airport is the only facility in South Carolina to offer regular flights to destinations in all four time zones in the contiguous United States.

In October 2018, British Airways announced the commencement of a direct route from London Heathrow for the summer season, flying twice weekly which commenced in April 2019.[7] This became the first scheduled transatlantic flight to operate from Charleston.[8]


View of the airfield from the passenger terminal

The airport 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 airport area of Charleston International Airport and Charleston Air Force Base covers 2,060 acres (830 ha) and has two runways: 15/33, 9,001 ft × 200 ft (2,744 m × 61 m) and 03/21, 7,000 ft × 150 ft (2,134 m × 46 m).[2]

For the 12-month period ending May 31, 2017, the airport had 108,372 aircraft operations, an average of 297 per day: 37% commercial, 27% general aviation, 20% military, and 18% air taxi.[2][1] In December 2017, there were 69 aircraft based at this airport: 29 single-engine, 12 multi-engine, 22 jet, and 6 helicopter.[2]

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.


Interior of Concourse A

The current airline terminal completed a three-year, $200 million redevelopment project in 2016 which added five gates and significantly renovated the interior appearance of the facility.[9] The original terminal was built in 1987 and was designed by Howard Needles Tammen & Bergendoff, Davis & Floyd, Inc., and Lucas & Stubbs.[10][11]

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 depart from two concourses: Concourse A towards the east and Concourse B towards the west. Since 2015, a consolidated TSA security checkpoint is utilized for both concourses.[12] Charleston International Airport is classified as a security-level Category I airport by the TSA. The airport is equipped to handle international flights.

Concourse A contains five gates is primarily used by Delta Air Lines and Delta Connection, with other airlines occasionally using a gate for overflow. Concourse B contains ten gates and is used by other airlines serving the airport. Concourse B also contains the international arrivals facility when needed.

Ground transportationEdit

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.[13]

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.
  • 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.

The airport’s Rental Car Pavilion is located just past the baggage claim area. The airport houses 8 rental car brands including, Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar Car Rental, Enterprise, Hertz, National, and Thrifty Car Rental.[14]

Airlines and destinationsEdit


Alaska Airlines Seattle/Tacoma [15]
Allegiant Air Seasonal: Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus–Rickenbacker, Indianapolis, Louisville (begins May 22, 2020),[16] Pittsburgh, Punta Gorda (FL) [17]
American Airlines Charlotte, Dallas/Fort Worth, Philadelphia (begins May 7, 2020) [18]
American Eagle Charlotte, Chicago–O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami, New York–LaGuardia, Philadelphia, Washington–National [18]
British Airways Seasonal: London–Heathrow [19]
Delta Air Lines Atlanta, New York–JFK
Seasonal: Boston
Delta Connection Boston, New York–JFK, New York–LaGuardia
Seasonal: Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul
Frontier Airlines Cleveland, Philadelphia
Seasonal: Denver, Trenton
JetBlue Boston, Fort Lauderdale, New York–JFK [22]
Southwest Airlines Baltimore, Chicago–Midway, Houston–Hobby, Nashville
Seasonal: Atlanta (begins June 7, 2020),[23] Dallas–Love, Denver, Kansas City (begins June 13, 2020),[23] St. Louis
United Airlines Chicago–O'Hare, Newark
Seasonal: Denver, Washington–Dulles
United Express Chicago–O'Hare, Denver, Houston–Intercontinental, Newark, Washington–Dulles
Seasonal: Cleveland


Atlas Air Anchorage, Grottaglie, Seattle–Paine, Wichita–McConnell AFB
FedEx Express Greensboro, Memphis, Nashville
FedEx Feeder Memphis
UPS Airlines Columbia (SC), Greenville/Spartanburg


Airline market shareEdit

Largest Airlines at CHS (December 2018 – November 2019)[26]
Rank Airline Passengers Share
1 Delta Air Lines 1,031,000 22.02%
2 Southwest Airlines 715,000 15.26%
3 JetBlue 500,000 10.67%
4 PSA Airlines 427,000 9.12%
5 American Airlines 399,000 8.52%
6 Other 1,611,000 34.41%

Top destinationsEdit

Busiest domestic routes from CHS (Dec 2018 – Nov 2019)[26]
Rank City Passengers Carriers
1 Atlanta, Georgia 459,050 Delta
2 Charlotte, North Carolina 248,920 American
3 New York–JFK, New York 167,970 Delta, JetBlue
4 Baltimore, Maryland 129,910 Southwest
5 Washington–National, D.C. 123,220 American, JetBlue
6 Chicago–O'Hare, Illinois 116,810 American, Frontier, United
7 Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas 105,140 American
8 Newark, New Jersey 104,760 United
9 Boston, Massachusetts 96,710 Delta, JetBlue
10 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 83,550 American, Frontier

Annual trafficEdit

Annual passenger traffic at CHS, 2003 to Present[27]
Year Passengers Year Passengers
2003 1,616,255 2013 2,913,265
2004 1,828,597 2014 3,131,072
2005 2,143,105 2015 3,415,952
2006 1,877,631 2016 3,708,133
2007 2,275,541 2017 3,987,427
2008 2,334,219 2018 4,470,239
2009 2,190,251 2019
2010 2,021,328 2020
2011 2,520,829 2021
2012 2,593,063 2022

Accidents and incidentsEdit


  1. ^ a b "2018 Operations Report".
  2. ^ a b c d FAA Airport Master Record for CHS (Form 5010 PDF), effective December 7, 2017.
  3. ^ "Joint Civilian/Military (Joint-use) Airports". Airport Improvement Program. Federal Aviation Administration. March 6, 2002. Retrieved September 29, 2008.
  4. ^ a b "Charleston Airport saw nearly 500,000 additional passengers in 2018". Post & Courier. January 31, 2019. Retrieved March 9, 2019.
  5. ^ a b "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on September 27, 2013. Retrieved September 24, 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ "Airport History". Chs Airport.
  7. ^ "new routes". October 18, 2018.
  8. ^ Liu, Jim (October 19, 2018). "British Airways adds Charleston SC service in S19". Routesonline. Retrieved October 19, 2018.
  9. ^ "$200M Charleston airport renovation wraps up".
  10. ^ "Airport History".
  11. ^ Wiesenthal, Eric (December 26, 1981). "Airport Taking Shape". The Post and Courier. Retrieved June 14, 2012.
  12. ^ "Consolidated TSA checkpoint opens April 15". Retrieved April 28, 2015.
  13. ^ "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.
  14. ^ "CAR RENTAL SOUTHWEST CHARLESTON INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (CHS)". AutoRentals.Com. December 17, 2019. Retrieved January 31, 2020.
  15. ^ "Flight Timetable". Retrieved May 21, 2018.
  16. ^ "Allegiant Announces Largest Service Expansion In Company History With 3 New Cities And 44 Nonstop Routes". Allegiant Airlines.
  17. ^ "Allegiant Interactive Route Map". Retrieved May 21, 2018.
  18. ^ a b "Flight schedules and notifications". Retrieved May 21, 2018.
  19. ^ "British Airways - Timetables". Retrieved May 21, 2018.
  20. ^ a b "FLIGHT SCHEDULES". Retrieved May 21, 2018.
  21. ^ "Frontier". Retrieved May 21, 2018.
  22. ^ "JetBlue Airlines Timetable". Retrieved May 21, 2018.
  23. ^ a b "Southwest Airlines Extends Flight Schedule Through August 10, 2020". Southwest Airlines. December 11, 2019. Retrieved February 14, 2020.
  24. ^ "Check Flight Schedules". Retrieved May 21, 2018.
  25. ^ a b "Timetable". Retrieved May 21, 2018.
  26. ^ a b "RITA | BTS | Transtats - CHS". September 2017.
  27. ^ "Charleston International Airport - Operations Reports".

External linksEdit