19 new employees proposed for airport

Five new gates open Tuesday, April 14, on the new extension of Concourse B at Charleston International Airport. On the opposite side of the terminal, the new eight-lane consolidated checkpoint will open Wednesday. Both new sections are part of the ongoing $189 million overhaul of the 30-year-old terminal.

Charleston International Airport could land 19 new full-time employees and six part-time workers next year at a cost of up to $773,000 under a plan presented Monday.

The additional workers are in response to the $189 million expansion of the airport, which will be mostly completed in November.

Charleston County Aviation Authority currently employs 155 people.

The additional personnel would be scattered across an array of departments, 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 — if the airport board signs off on the plan when it meets April 23.

Maintenance would pick up six workers to handle the terminal’s physical growth by 40 percent — just over 100,000 new square feet. The expansion includes five new gates, a rental car pavilion, hundreds of feet of new baggage conveyor belts in the underbelly and a new two-story area dedicated to the Transportation Security Administration’s checkpoint and the airport’s administrative offices.

The five new gates open Tuesday. The new security area opens Wednesday.

Airport operations, which now runs from about 4:30 a.m. to close to midnight when the last flight comes in, will enter around-the-clock service, requiring two new operations supervisors and a new assistant manager.

“We really need to be 24-7 on operations and maintenance,” said Roger Schwartz, operations manager. “Any time we have a diversion coming in, we have to respond.”

Engineering, information technology and property management would see one new employee each.

“We are going to have to step up and make sure we have the crew level to keep up with the growth,” Airports Director Paul Campbell said. “We have a need, and we have to address that need.”

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

Campbell said the cost of the new employees could be reduced if the airport takes over the baggage handling system from the airlines.

The new employees will be phased in as needed as parts of the terminal are completed in the new budget year, which starts July 1.

The proposed spending plan for the entire airport will be presented in May.

Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or twitter.com/warrenlancewise.