Airport projects revenues to climb 12.6% next year

The agency that oversees Charleston International Airport projects revenues will rise 12.6 percent during the next fiscal year, which begins in July.

The agency that runs Charleston International Airport projects revenues will increase 12.6 percent for the year starting July 1 to $37.1 million, funding its largest budget ever.

It’s a direct result of more passengers, more airlines and more tenants, said Judi Olmstead, finance director for the Charleston County Aviation Authority.

The spending plan includes 19 new full-time employees at a cost of $750,000 and a 3 percent merit pay increase for the 155 employees currently on payroll.

Olmstead is also projecting the passenger count at the state’s busiest airport from July 1 through June 2016 will grow by about 30,000, or 1 percent, to 3.16 million based on the addition of new airlines and existing carriers shifting to larger planes.

Charleston International added three new airlines this year: Canada-based Porter Airlines, Florida-based Silver Airways and Seattle-based Alaska Airlines.

The budget includes $2.4 million to upgrade three taxiways, representing the agency’s 10 percent cost of the $24 million project. The Federal Aviation Administration provides the remainder.

Money also is being set aside for signage at the three-level parking deck that will notify motorists when one of the tiers is full or has a certain number of available spaces.

An Aviation Authority committee panel signed off on the proposed budget Thursday. The full board will review the spending plan next week.

The 19 extra workers are needed as part of the $189 million expansion of the airport, which will be mostly completed later this year, said Paul Campbell, director of airports.

The additional personnel, if approved, will be scattered throughout airport operations, with the largest increases in security and maintenance. The police department would see the bulk of the new hires — seven full-time and six part-time.

Sign up for our new business newsletter

We're starting a weekly newsletter about the business stories that are shaping Charleston and South Carolina. Get ahead with us - it's free.

Maintenance would pick up six workers to handle the terminal’s physical growth by 40 percent, or slightly more than 100,000 square feet of new space.

Airport operations, which now run from about 4:30 a.m. to about midnight, will switch to around-the-clock service, requiring two more supervisors and an assistant manager.

The terminal renovation includes five new gates and a new Transportation Security Administration checkpoint area. They were completed in April.

Last year, Charleston International set a record with 3.1 million passengers arriving and departing, up more than 1 million since 2010.

The airport doesn’t levy taxes and is mostly self-funded, though it receives federal taxpayer money in the form of grants.

Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or