Charlotte Airport has rocking chairs, a NoDa Brewing Company lounge and, soon, refurbished lounges and seats with loading stations.

Its main carrier, American Airlines, has recently added domestic and international routes. And Charlotte Douglas International Airport has recovered some additional carriers as well.

So, could the airport ever compete in number of passengers and flights with one of the busiest hubs in the country a few hours away, Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport?

"It's quite feasible," said Bob Mann, an airline analyst based in Port Washington, NY.

But Atlanta, the second busiest airport for takeoffs and landings in the United States, should first stabilize, he said. At the same time, Charlotte is expected to grow in size and number of passengers to keep pace with Atlanta, according to aviation experts.

And becoming like Atlanta, with its internal train system, even more international options and lower fares could have a cost, warn experts. Charlotte could lose some of her charm and convenience. And that's what local airport officials hope to avoid.

Nevertheless, here's what can help Charlotte Airport grow:

Economic growth

Airline analysts say Charlotte would need more business to settle in the city, especially industries whose employees have high airfares, such as bankers and lawyers, for the airport to offer. the same destination options as Atlanta.

A little more than ten years ago, Charlotte housed the headquarters of eight banks. But now, only Bank of America is headquartered here, although BB & T and SunTrust Banks have recently announced plans to merge and form a new Charlotte-based bank.

"The banks seem to generate more revenue and therefore more people willing to pay for premium airline tickets," said Joe Brancatelli, editor of the New York-based JoeSentMe business travel website. .

Charlotte has 40 banks doing business in the area, according to FDIC data. In comparison, Atlanta has 89.

More local passengers

Having more local passengers coming from Charlotte would induce new flight options and entice other carriers to join the market, said Brent Cagle, director of aviation at Charlotte Airport.

According to FAA statistics, Atlanta, which recorded 895,502 take-offs and landings last year, is Delta Airlines' largest hub. The Chicago O'Hare International Airport took first place with just over 900,000. On the same list, Charlotte's 550,013 take-offs and landings ranked sixth, the position he has since occupied. several years.

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Charlotte has more flights than an airport of its size, according to the number of local passengers, as it is such a large hub of connections for American Airlines, said the aircraft manufacturer. the airport, Brent Cagle.

David T. Foster III dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Charlotte had nearly 46 million total number of passengers in 2017, according to the airport. That's less than half of Atlanta's expenses. about 100 million.

Charlotte has more flights than an airport of her size should be based on the number of local passengers, said Cagle. That's because it's a very large connection hub for American Airlines, he said.

In addition, fares from Charlotte are traditionally more expensive than domestic fares from other airports. For the second quarter of last year, Charlotte's average price was $ 427, according to the BTS. Charlotte is ranked 28th. Atlanta finished third with average fares of $ 358.

More long-haul flights

Airport analysts believe that offering more non-stop and long-haul destinations will help Charlotte Airport grow.

The international destinations that Charlotte passengers want to serve, but currently require a stopover, include Vancouver and Ontario in Canada, said Cagle.

Other major destinations are the United States, including Albuquerque, MN, Honolulu and Orange County, California, he said.

About 12 million passengers in Atlanta, or about 12%, were traveling to and from international destinations in 2017. In Charlotte, about 3.3 million passengers, or about 7%, traveled abroad.

Last summer, American Airlines announced its intention to add a live in Munich in March. At the time, the Charlotte Chamber had stated that more than 200 German companies employed about 17,000 people in the city.

An airplane train?

Some of Charlotte's growth plans include a train to help transport passengers to a future terminal. Currently, Charlotte has 106 gates and five corridors of more than 30 hectares, according to the airport.

In comparison, Atlanta has 192 gates and seven halls on about 150 acres, according to this airport.

"Charlotte is a much more compact airport than Atlanta," said analyst Brancatelli.

In Atlanta, 11 trains run at peak times, according to the airport.

A train in Charlotte's current terminal is unlikely, said the director of aviation, Cagle. But long-term projects include the installation of a satellite terminal at the airport. This terminal might require a train or some other "automated people carrier," said Cagle.

This terminal could come to fruition in the next 15 to 20 years, or sooner if growth accelerates, he said.

Trains are not always more efficient because passengers have to walk to the train, wait for it, and then go to the next door, said analyst Mann. "You will often do better to sabotage it."

Porch sensation

While Charlotte Airport is growing, it's important to keep its southern charm and conservatory atmosphere, Cagle said.

He said the Expansion Competition shows this balance, with improvements such as more charging stations and a sleek design.

Atlanta Airport is big and impersonal, said Brancatelli.

"I'm fighting to go to Atlanta where I want to go," he said. Charlotte is not any airport, said Brancatelli. It's more relaxed and less chaotic than Atlanta's, he said.

And he has these famous rocking chairs.

"Charlotte seems to be somewhere," said Brancatelli. "That's what you'll lose almost by definition as you grow up."


Correction

A previous version of this story gave a misleading picture of the total number of passengers and the number of those traveling to and from international destinations at Charlotte and Atlanta airports in 2017.