Thanksgiving travelers might notice more parking at Charleston International Airport this week.
The Charleston County Aviation Authority, which owns and operates the state’s busiest airport, announced last week that it completed the expansion of the long-term surface lot that’s right behind the parking deck.
The project added 428 spots and brought the total to just under 3,600, for a net gain of 12 percent. That’s based on the deck and the adjacent lot. It doesn’t include the spaces in a remote parking area that’s not being used right now.
The airport expects to see a big jump in holiday traffic this week, with the big rush coming Wednesday.
It will open the remote lot and offer shuttles if necessary, said spokeswoman Becky Beaman. “We’ve run the numbers, and we don’t anticipate having to do that,” she said Friday.
The new spots were added because the airport plans to expand the parking deck, which will temporarily take some existing spaces out of commission.
“That project is down the road,” Beaman said.
Dunkin’ Donuts is rolling out a fresh expansion plan in Charleston.
The local franchisor for the coffee and food chain has inked a deal to open 10 self-serve locations in Hess stations around the region.
The first two opened Nov. 9 at 8976 University Blvd. in North Charleston and 1401 Trolley Road in Summerville. The rest are scheduled to open by mid-December in Charleston, Goose Creek, Ladson and North Charleston.
George Ross of Coastal Franchising LLC acquired four Dunkin’ Donuts franchises in the Charleston area in 2007 and later added five locations.
The company’s new self-serve Hess units will offer free product samples every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for their first four weeks of operations.
Ever wonder why Charleston International Airport is called an international airport, even though it has had no scheduled international flights since Air Canada pulled out nearly a decade ago?
Part of the answer is that it has the ability to handle international flights that might encounter an emergency. It also can accept private aircraft that might originate in the Bahamas, and it’s used for repatriation of American citizens evacuated from Haiti or other countries. On top of that, for many years the airport once welcomed about 100,000 military personnel and dependents from overseas before that service was moved to Atlanta in 1998.
Also, the airport has a little-known federal inspection station operated by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol near the baggage claim.
Now, the head of the Charleston County Aviation Authority wants to see more of an international flair on the flight line. “How can we be the No. 1 tourist city in the world and not be able to fly into here (internationally)? That’s vexing for me,” said state Rep. Chip Limehouse, chairman of the board.
The short answer is Charleston’s not big enough. Raleigh-Durham offers flights to London and Mexico, but it also sees 3.8 million domestic outbound passengers a year. Charlotte, which offers flights to Europe, Central America and South America, had about 4.5 million boardings last year. Charleston, on the other hand, saw 1.3 million.
Also, why would a carrier like Delta Air Lines be hard-pressed to establish a new international base when it already operates one just 45 minutes away by air in Atlanta.
Nonetheless, Limehouse said he’s determined to bring international flights to Charleston International.
“That should be our No. 1 priority,” he said.
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