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Charleston airport passenger count now 1 million higher than last year's first 8 months

Charleston airport passengers

Charleston International Airport has seen more than 3.5 million passengers coming and going so far this year through August and is on pace to set a new record for the number of travelers in one year. Warren L. Wise/Staff

The number of passengers at Charleston International slipped a bit in August, but the airport has seen 1 million more travelers than last year during the first eight months.

After three consecutive months of funneling more than half a million passengers each month through the terminal, the number of ticketholders retreated slightly last month as many vacations ended and school resumed.

Nearly 479,000 passengers arrived and departed in August, according to Charleston County Aviation Authority. That's almost 47,000 less than the record set in July and 11 percent more than a year ago. 

So far this year, Charleston airport has seen 3.5 million travelers. Compared to 2019, the last year before COVID-19 disrupted airline flights around the globe, CHS has picked up more than 239,000 more passengers this year.

Airport officials have predicted the terminal will set a new record this year of more than 5 million passengers.

David McMahon, federal security director with the Transportation Security Administration for South Carolina, believes the airport will reach and probably surpass the 5 million passenger goal this year.

"We have seen good success with the new flights being added, so one can only expect that we will see decent numbers for the rest of the year," McMahon said.

Breeze Airways will add nonstop flights to Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Phoenix in early November, which will help to boost the number of travelers, including during the usually busy, long Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

He expects September's passenger count to be comparatively down a bit since schools are now back in session without required remote learning and less ability of parents to travel more freely.

"Our numbers are still pretty strong on Sundays, though," McMahon said.

To help with the increased passenger load, airport officials will dedicate the addition of three new gates on Sept. 22. They are also placing more seats in the waiting areas and plan to add automated curbside check-in stations to alleviate overcrowding at airline ticket counters.

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Reach Warren L. Wise at wwise@postandcourier.com. Follow him on Twitter @warrenlancewise.