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Charlotte Douglas International expected to fully recover from pandemic impact a year earlier than expected, leaders say

48 million travelers were served by the airport in 2022, up by 5 million from 2021.
Credit: WCNC / File photo
A file photo from Charlotte-Douglas International Airport in Charlotte, NC.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte Douglas International Airport saw even more passengers in 2022 than in 2021, inching closer to a record set before the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the travel industry.

Airport officials said in a Tuesday news release about 48 million passengers were served at Charlotte Douglas in 2022, a 10% jump from 43 million passengers in 2021. Last year's passenger numbers were also just about 2 million shy of the record-breaking 50 million set in 2019.

“Our numbers are definitely headed in the right direction,” said airport CEO Haley Gentry. “Throughout the pandemic we’ve outperformed national trends, and we’re showing no signs of slowing down in 2023. The hub continues growing as more and more passengers are eager and ready to return to the skies.”

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Airport officials said international travelers served in Charlotte also grew, from 1 million in 2021 to 1.7 million in 2022. Charlotte Douglas officials also predicted a 100% recovery from the pandemic would happen in 2023, a year earlier than previously predicted.

“What we’ve experienced over the past three years really demonstrates the resiliency of this Airport and the aviation industry as a whole,” Gentry said. “To go from 27 million passengers in 2020 to almost 48 million in 2022 is proof CLT has bounced back with a vigor and is an integral part of this region that positively impacts our local economy and quality of life.” 

Cargo also saw Charlotte's skies often as well. In 2022, more than 207,000 tons were transported through the airport, versus about 178,000 tons in 2021.

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Aircraft travel, however, dipped about 3% below 2021 numbers. Airport leaders said this was because airlines focused on mainline activity and up-gauging aircraft.

Airport officials also touted Charlotte Douglas' position as the second-largest hub for American Airlines and a $32 billion contribution to North Carolina's economy in 2021. 

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