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 2015 the airport served over 3.4 million passengers in its busiest year on record. [4] The airport is located in North Charleston and is approximately 12 miles (20 km) northwest of downtown Charleston . The airport is additionally home to the Boeing South Carolina facility that assembles the Boeing 787 Dreamliner . [5]


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 additional 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]

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 after 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 additional 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 eleventh attacks . Independence Air served the airport in 2005 and 2006, when the airline folded. AirTran Airways served the airport from 2007 to 2009. [7]

Since 2010, the airport has seen significant growth in passenger figures. New service from Southwest Airlines and JetBlue Airways along with increased services from the three legacy carriers have contributed to this growth. In 2015, the airport achieved two milestones: resuming of international service with Porter Airlines flights to Toronto and Alaska Airlines launching the airport's first non-stop west coast route to Seattle/Tacoma . [8] [9]

Facilities and aircraft


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 x 200 ft (2,744 x 61 m) and 03/21, 7,004 x 150 ft (2,135 x 46 m). [11]

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. [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.

Passenger terminal

The current airline terminal was built in 1987 and was designed by Howard Needles Tammen & Bergendoff , Davis & Floyd, Inc., and Lucas & Stubbs. [12] 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. [13]

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 utilised for both concourses. [14] Charleston International Airport is classified as a security-level Category I airport by the TSA. The airport is equipped to handle international flights.

The airport has two concourses. Concourse A is used exclusively by Delta Air Lines and Delta Connection . Concourse B is used exclusively by Alaska Airlines , American Airlines . JetBlue Airways . Porter Airlines , Southwest Airlines , United Airlines and United Express

Airlines and destinations


Airlines Destinations Concourse
Alaska Airlines Seattle/Tacoma B
American Airlines Charlotte B
American Eagle Charlotte , Dallas/Fort Worth , Miami , Philadelphia , Washington–National B
Delta Air Lines Atlanta , New York–JFK A
Delta Connection Atlanta , Detroit , New York–JFK , New York–LaGuardia
Seasonal: Boston
JetBlue Airways Boston , Fort Lauderdale , New York–JFK , Washington–National B
Porter Airlines Seasonal: Toronto–Billy Bishop B
Southwest Airlines Baltimore , Chicago–Midway , Dallas–Love , Denver , Nashville
Seasonal : Houston–Hobby
United Airlines Newark
Seasonal: Chicago–O'Hare
United Express Chicago–O'Hare , Houston–Intercontinental , Newark , Washington–Dulles
Seasonal: Cleveland


Airlines Destinations
DHL Aviation
operated by Atlas Air
Anchorage , Cincinnati , Grottaglie , McConnell AFB , Nagoya–Centrair , Seattle–Paine
FedEx Express Memphis , Nashville
UPS Airlines
operated by Martinaire
Columbia (SC) , Greenville/Spartanburg


Airline market share

Carrier shares: Jan. 2015 – Dec. 2015 [15]
Carrier Passengers (arriving and departing)
Delta Air Lines
900,000 (27.03%)
Southwest Airlines
585,000 (17.57%)
371,000 (11.13%)
PSA (American Eagle)
353,000 (10.61%)
ExpressJet (Delta or United Express)
267,000 (7.82%)
Other carriers
860,000 (25.83%)

Top destinations

Busiest domestic routes from CHS (Jan – Dec 2015) [15]
Rank City Passengers Carriers
1 Atlanta, Georgia 411,000 Delta
2 Charlotte, North Carolina 209,000 American Eagle/US Airways Express
3 New York–JFK, New York 148,000 Delta, JetBlue
4 Washington–National, D.C. 130,000 American Eagle/US Airways Express, JetBlue
5 Baltimore, Maryland 122,000 Southwest
6 Chicago–O'Hare, Illinois 72,000 United Express
7 Chicago–Midway, Illinois 66,000 Southwest
8 Washington–Dulles, Virginia 62,000 United Express
9 Newark, New Jersey 61,000 United Express
10 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 55,000 American Eagle/US Airways Express

Annual traffic

Annual passenger traffic (enplaned + deplaned) and aircraft operations at CHS, 2003 through 2014 [16]
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


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. [17]


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 , additionally 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 most of the time 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 most of the time 50–55 minutes. As of 2014, a one-way fare is $1.75


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

Accidents and incidents