Charleston Airport to Close Runways at Midnight

September 12, 2018, 8:13 am EST | Share:

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (BRODIE HART, WTAT-TV) — It’s official — Charleston International Airport will close at midnight tonight.

The runway closure could cause a lot of problems for passengers who are looking to get out off Florence’s path.

While the airport was still operating early Wednesday morning, flight boards were beginning to show a number of cancelled departures and arrivals.

Many of those cancelled flights were for southwest travelers. A spokesperson with the airline told us they sent all of their employees home and wanted to give them a chance to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Florence.

Sen. Paul Campbell, who is CEO of the Charleston Aviation Authority, said the reason for closing the runways down Wednesday night is because of high winds from the hurricane and the fact the airport cannot provide safe and secure services to the airplanes taking off and coming in.

“The Air Force is doing what the Governor asked for them to do – they are evacuating,” he said early Wednesday morning. “As they go down to a skeletal crew, they cannot provide the fire and rescue services we need in the event something happens when an airplane either takes off or lands at the airport. If we can’t provide safety services for the airlines, we’re not going to run the airport.”

Campbell said the number one priority at Charleston International Airport is the safety and security of the passengers and the people who work at the airport.

The airport will close at midnight — that will give the passengers stranded in Charleston the opportunity to get out of harms way.

“We know Delta will fly until at least 5, 6:00 p.m.,” he said. “They probably won’t leave a plane overnight, so after 5 or 6 they may not come in. American is going to fly all day from what I understand — I think United and Jet Blue will fly all day, but you’ve got some who are also letting their employees go.”

He said these efforts will give the airport an opportunity too allow their employees time to seek shelter as well.

“At midnight tonight, the Air Force is going to close down on fire and rescue, we’ll shut down the runways and start battening down the hatches here,” explained Campbell. “We’ll have a ride-out crew at the airport to make sure make sure it is secure and hope to open promptly at 7 a.m. Saturday morning.”

Governor McMaster’s mandatory evacuation of the tri-county area went into effect Tuesday at noon.