Is Charleston SC International Airport really International?

Charleston International Airport is South Carolina’s busiest airport, but the real question is how many of the 2,520,829 passengers who passed through the airport in 2012 flew internationally?

The answer may or may not surprise you. Zero. Zero passengers flying commercially took an international flight in 2012. In fact, the last commercial international flight took off in 2001 when Air Canada ended service to Toronto following 911.

So why is it still called “International”?  The runways at the airport are actually owned and operated by the Charleston Joint Airforce Base and while zero commercial flight are international there are plenty of military and cargo flights that are international.

Last year, the airport had 105,019 aircraft operations, an average of 288 per day. Of that, only 21% was commercial business the smallest portion of air traffic at CHS.

Boeing has a plant in Charleston SC that builds and ferries the Boeing Dreamliner. The Boeing Dreamlifter, the plane that carries Dreamliner parts is a regular sight on the runway in CHS and does fly internationally, though if you’re on that plane you’ll not be seeing the inside of the airport. Last year we saw Air India’s Dreamliner in Charleston before it took its final flight for delivery to the airline.

The military operates several types of aircraft that fly internationally. During the Haiti Earthquake military aircraft were flown directly from Charleston to Haiti so our troops could provide support there.

So there you have it, Charleston International airport is the busiest International airport without a single commercial international flight.


2 Comments on "Is Charleston SC International Airport really International?"

  1. Is Army Wives filmed in Charleston? They were at the airport in this past week’s episode.

  2. The military function has nothing to do with the international designation. All it means is that there are appropriate facilities available for immigration and customs officers to be able to operate. There are a lot of airports in the USA which carry that designation even though they lack scheduled service. As appropriate the USICS staff will come over from another, nearby facility to handle the work if needed.

    I’ve arrived at ISP as an international passenger before. No big deal, really.

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