Charleston airports finances in shape ahead of $200 million renovation
Charleston International Airport is in “very good shape” financially as it prepares for a nearly $200 million makeover of its aging terminal.
That’s the assessment Airports Director Sue Stevens gave Tuesday in her year-end review of Charleston County Aviation Authority.
“The airport economy is booming, and it should only get better,” Stevens said.
The state’s busiest airport saw 1.3 million departing passengers for its year that ended June 30, up by 200,000 over the previous year. Counting incoming passengers, Charleston International recorded about 2.6 million people passing through its 27-year-old terminal last year.
Charleston’s airport also witnessed a five-year increase in boarding passengers of 7 percent while the national average has declined just under 1 percent, Stevens said.
Its operating revenue increased by $2 million to nearly $28 million, and for the first time money made from parking — $8.7 million — outpaced rental car revenues of $8.6 million. Parking fees did not increase last year.
Low-cost carrier Southwest Airlines started serving Charleston in 2011, helping to boost the airport’s passenger count and revenues. In February, discount carrier JetBlue Airways will fly in with three more daily flights to New York and Boston.
The board will meet Thursday to decide how to finance the extensive overhaul of its outmoded terminal. The money is expected to come mostly from borrowing by issuing bonds and using funds from its airport-imposed fee of $4.50 per departing passengers.
Charleston International has about $15 million in debt, a low amount for an airport its size, Stevens said.
Read more in Wednesday’s editions of The Post and Courier.
Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or twitter.com/warrenlancewise.