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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

A ‘Queen’ returns to Charlotte airport

Queen Charlotte debuted at her new home inside the Charlotte Douglas International Airport on Friday.

The 3,000-pound, 15-foot tall, bronze sculpture will be the first thing arriving passengers see as they approach baggage claim.

The sculpture was first dedicated at the Charlotte airport in 1990 but has been shuffled about lately due to construction of the $608 million terminal lobby expansion and other construction.

The Terminal Lobby Expansion’s east side will open by the end of the month, adding approximately 90,000 square feet of space to the east subterranean walkway. The entire expansion, which started in 2019, should be completed in fall 2025.

Queen Charlotte, a fixture at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport for decades, has been shuffled about lately due to construction. She returned home Friday, Oct. 20, 2023.

“It’s a wonderful day as Queen Charlotte is back to welcome visitors to her city once again,” says the airport’s CEO Haley Gentry in a release. “Through all the construction, the development and growth, Queen Charlotte has been the constant. We are thrilled to bring her back inside so she can faithfully watch as we continue to build an airport fit for the Queen.”

A private group known as the Queen’s Table donated $250,000 for a sculpture that would symbolize the city and greet those who pass through the Charlotte airport. The sculpture was created by Washington, D.C., artist Raymond Kaskey. She was first installed between the airport’s original hourly parking decks and relocated in 2013 between the daily decks to make room for construction of the new hourly parking deck.

The sculpture was taken to Carolina Bronze in Seagrove in October 2021 for restoration. She returned to Charlotte in June 2022 and was positioned in her final stance on a 30-foot plinth and covered to protect the statue from the construction.

The expansion of the terminal lobby east side includes large windows, terrazzo flooring throughout, bright blue tiles framing the entrances and exits, and architectural-detailed scalloped ceilings. There are also suspended sculptures, murals, as well as other artistic touches.

The terminal lobby expansion will add 175,000-square-feet of space and renovate another 191,000 square feet. When the terminal was built in 1982 it was designed to accommodate 2.8 million passengers a year. The expansion is the signature project of a $4 billion airport overhaul. The contractors for the terminal expansion is a joint venture between Holder Construction, Edison Foard and R.J. Leeper. 

Other Charlotte airport news:

  • By the end of the month, Transportation Security Administration’s Checkpoint 1 will open and Checkpoint D will close. Checkpoint 1 will have eight screening lanes, which includes six automated screening lanes. No other changes are anticipated to the security screening process until after the holiday travel season.
  • Eventually, Charlotte Douglas will have three numbered security checkpoints.
  • The next phase of the lobby expansion includes renovating the remainder of the original part of the lobby, finishing the 146,000-square-foot canopy that will protect people from bad weather while being dropped off in front of the terminal as well as overhead and subterranean walkways so visitors can bypass airport traffic.
  • The airport’s first pre-security restaurant, The Queen’s Court, opened Oct. 13 near the sculpture. It offers sit-down dining and breakfast, lunch, dinner and wine, beer and cocktails.

Charlotte Douglas International Airport is the seventh-busiest airport in the U.S. for arriving and departing aircraft and among the top 10 nationwide for passengers, according to 2022 Airports Council International rankings. Last year, the Charlotte airport saw 48 million passengers and handled more than 505,000 arrivals and departures. It averages 1,400 daily aircraft arrivals and departures and 4 million passengers.

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