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The iconic Queen Charlotte statue has returned to Charlotte Douglas International Airport — though it won’t be unveiled until 2025.
The statue was returned to the airport after “a makeover” at Carolina Bronze in Seagrove, N.C. It will be enclosed in a box until construction on the terminal lobby expansion is completed.
The $600 million terminal lobby expansion project is the most expensive single project in the airport’s slate of “Destination CLT” renovations.
Destination CLT is a $2.5 billion to $3.1 billion capital investment program to renovate and expand the airport. The terminal lobby expansion will add another 175,000 square feet for TSA security screenings, ticketing, baggage claim and offices.
The lobby expansion will include two overhead pedestrian walkways and two underground walkways connecting the hourly deck to the terminal.
The lobby expansion and other renovations are part of a play to keep up with increasing passenger traffic.
When the terminal first opened in 1982, the airport served 2.8 million passengers. In 2018, CLT saw 46 million customers, according to the airport.
But the airport’s passenger numbers took a deep dive in early 2020, as the coronavirus pandemic hit North Carolina.
But travelers have slowly returned to the airport. In April, the most recent month of passenger data available, 1.9 million people boarded planes at CLT, according to the airport. That’s a huge increase from April 2020, which saw just under 170,000 people board planes in CLT.
And the April 2021 number is just below the airport’s total number of departing passengers for April 2019, which topped 2 million, before the COVID-19 pandemic hit North Carolina.
The airport is also taking steps toward building a fourth parallel runway, in a $672 million project that includes expanding concourses B and C. Construction on the runway could be completed by 2027, according to a draft document released in April.
In other changes at the airport, the city of Charlotte named Haley Gentry as the new Aviation Director for the airport on Wednesday. The announcement marks the first time a woman has held the top job at CLT.