Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Charlotte: Concord jets

With the nation’s fifth-busiest airport, Charlotte wouldn’t seem to need more flight space. But Concord Regional Airport is accelerating its plan to offer an alternative, opening a $6.5 million, 25,000-square-foot terminal in October. It can handle about 30 scheduled flights a week, triple the current level, says director Richard Cloutier. A new 700-space parking deck also opened at the airport, which is just off Interstate 85, about 20 miles from Charlotte Douglas International Airport.

It’s a big step for the Cabarrus County airport, which opened in 1994, mostly as a service to NASCAR teams that travel regularly to races across the U.S. The project drew opposition from some county residents who voiced concerns about increased noise and pollution.

Concord officials prevailed, benefiting from airport economics that can work well for local communities. The Federal Aviation Administration is paying 90% of the terminal’s cost, with the city and state splitting the balance. The parking deck’s $5.7 million cost will be recouped by hourly and daily fees ranging from 50 cents to $5.

The airport remains a favorite of the racing crowd, along with other local corporate fleets and individual pilots. But its growth hinges heavily on expansions by fast-growing Allegiant Air, the airport’s only commercial airline service.

A subsidiary of Las Vegas-based Allegiant Travel Co., the airline has 10 weekly flights between Concord and four Florida destinations and recently added service to New Orleans. Concord Mayor J. Scott Padgett says passenger boardings are likely to reach 150,000 by the end of this year, up 30% from 2015. He expects other airlines to add Concord to their route schedules over the next year, based on his industry contacts.

Allegiant, the 13th-largest U.S. airline, has grown rapidly by offering cut-rate fares, which are supplemented by fees to carry bags on board, book through a call center, choose a specific seat or cancel a flight. The airline is facing increased regulatory scrutiny after press reports that its aging fleet suffers midair mechanical problems much more often than its peers.

Allegiant Travel’s shares have declined 40% in the last year because of the costs of switching from McDonnell Douglas MD-80 planes to Airbus 320s. But the airline has a $2.6 billion market value, and eight of 13 analysts who track the company rate it a “buy,” according to MarketWatch.

The direct financial impact of the airport on Concord is fairly limited because most of its revenue stems from fuel sales, not boarding fees. With gas prices tanking, the airport reported revenue of $8.6 million last year, the lowest since 2010, according to city finance reports. But there are other ways to judge success. Padgett touts the airport as a statewide asset and a valuable recruiting tool for economic development.

Photo by LJ Weslowski

Jeld-Wen will build a new headquarters campus and training center in southwest Charlotte, adding 200 jobs with an average annual salary of $75,000. The door and window manufacturer was started in Oregon in 1960 and moved its headquarters here last year. The company employs about 20,000 people worldwide, including more than 400 in North Carolina, and says it has annual revenue of about $3.5 billion. Jeld-Wen was awarded $2.4 million in state grants, contingent on meeting job-creation and investment goals. The company filed for an initial public offering in June and also was reported to be considering selling itself. Toronto-based private-equity firm Onex is the only holder of more than 5% of Jeld-Wen’s shares, according to the IPO filing.

CHARLOTTE – LendingTree is investing $47 million in a new headquarters campus and will create 314 jobs over five years, nearly doubling in size. Founded here in 1998, the company matches borrowers with lenders through its website. LendingTree could receive up to $4.9 million in state grants if it meets job-creation targets.

CHARLOTTE – Qualitest Pharmaceuticals will close its local plant next year and all 282 employees will lose their jobs. The generic-drug manufacturer was acquired in 2010 by Ireland-based Endo International for $1.2 billion.

CHARLOTTE – Charter Communications will lay off 257 of 1,367 employees at an operations center by June. Most of the affected jobs are in accounting and finance. The Stamford, Conn.-based company acquired Time Warner Cable in May as part of a $65 billion deal that included Syracuse, N.Y.-based Bright House Networks.

CHARLOTTE – Sealed Air is spinning off its Diversey Care cleaning-products unit into a separate public company. The division generated $2.6 billion in sales for the year ended June 30, about one-third of all revenue. Ilham Kadri, president of the unit, will lead the new company, which will be based here. The transaction is expected to be complete in the second half of 2017.

SHELBY – Canada-based Mafic will invest $15 million in a new plant, creating 113 jobs. The company makes basalt-fiber and thermoplastic resins for use in auto parts, filters and other products.

ANSON COUNTY – King Charles Industries will hire 100 people over three years at a new $12.5 million apparel plant. The company is a joint venture of Hornwood, a 70-year-old textile company based in Lilesville, and Taiwan-based Kingwhale.

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Amanda Lea
Amanda Lea
Amanda Lea is a freelance writer in Charlotte.

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