Port Columbus Airport

Coordinates: 39°59′53″N 082°53′31″W / 39.99806°N 82.89194°W / 39.99806; -82.89194

Port Columbus International Airport
File:Columbus Airport Logo.jpg
Entryway into Port Columbus
Location of the Port Columbus International Airport
Airport type Public
Owner/Operator Columbus Regional Airport Authority
Location Columbus, Ohio
Hub for Republic Airlines
Elevation AMSL 815 ft / 248 m
Website http://flycolumbus.com/
Direction Length Surface
ft m
10R/28L 10,125 3,086 Asphalt
10L/28R 8,000 2,438 Asphalt
Statistics (2009)
Aircraft operations 163,984 (2,008)
Passenger volume 6,233,485
Cargo tonnage 5,205 (2,007)
Source: FAA[1] and CRAA[2][3]

Port Columbus International Airport (IATA: CMHICAO: KCMHFAA LID: CMH), commonly shortened to Port Columbus, is a Class C international airport located 6 miles (9.7 km) east of downtown Columbus, Ohio, USA. It is managed by the Columbus Regional Airport Authority, which also oversees operations at Rickenbacker International Airport and Bolton Field. The airport code 'CMH' stands for "Columbus Municipal Hangar," though that name is no longer used today.[4]

Port Columbus is primarily a passenger airport, providing 151 non-stop flights to 34 airports via 15 airlines daily.[5] Traffic reached 6,233,485 passengers in 2009, a 9.8% decrease over the previous year.[2]

According to a 2005 market survey, Port Columbus attracts about 50% of its passengers from outside of its 60-mile (97 km) radius primary service region.[6] In addition, the airport also handles freight and US mail, with 10,411,920 units of freight and 8,537,279 units of mail passing through in 2006.[3]

Today Port Columbus has service to almost all major airline hubs across the United States, exceptions being San Francisco, San Diego and Salt Lake City, Delta Air Lines' Western hub. The airport is the largest passenger airport in central Ohio and is the second busiest in the state after Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.

Accessing Port Columbus by road is possible by two interstate highways: I-270 to the northeast and I-670 to the west. The main airport roadway, International Gateway, connects directly to I-670.[7]

Port Columbus is known for displaying community artwork, including children's drawings, a photographic timeline, and other donated items. Most recognized is Brushstrokes in Flight, a sculpture in front of the Concourse B security checkpoint designed by Roy Lichtenstein.[8]


Early history

The airport opened July 8, 1929 on a site selected by Charles Lindbergh, as the eastern air terminus of the Transcontinental Air Transport air-rail New York to Los Angeles transcontinental route. Passengers traveled overnight on the Pennsylvania Railroad's Airway Limited from New York to Columbus; by air from Columbus to Waynoka, Oklahoma; by rail again from Waynoka to Clovis, New Mexico; and by air from Clovis to Los Angeles.[9] The original terminal building and hangars are still in use; the terminal has been restored and has rental office space and the hangars are still hangars.[10]

The diagram on the February 1951 Coast & Geodetic Survey instrument-approach chart shows runways 006/186 3550 ft long, 052/232 4400 ft, 096/276 4500 ft, and 127/307 5030 ft.

The April 1957 Official Airline Guide shows 72 airline departures each weekday: 41 TWA, 16 American, 6 Eastern, 6 Lake Central and 3 Piedmont.[11]

A $12 million terminal building opened on September 21, 1958.[10] Jet airline flights (American 707s) started in April 1964.

Recent improvements

A $70 million renovation of airport facilities, designed by Brubaker, Brandt Inc., was initiated in 1979 for the airport's 50th anniversary and completed in 1981.[12] This upgraded the airport's capacity to 250 flights per day by adding what is known today as Concourse B and added fully enclosed jetways at every gate.[10] Ten years later in 1989, a second, $15.5 million, seven-gate south concourse (now Concourse A) was dedicated.[10] The concourse was used exclusively by US Airways at the time, and later housed hubs for both America West Airlines until 2003, and Skybus Airlines until they shut it down in 2008 due to their bankruptcy. A north concourse was completed in 1996, which is now Concourse C, and was expanded in 2002.[10]

Between 1998 and 2000, numerous airport expansion and renovation projects were completed, including a $25 million terminal renovation in 1998 that included additional retail shops, new flight information displays, enhanced lighting, upgraded flooring, and a new food court. Also, new hangars and office spaces were completed for NetJets in 1999, as well as a $92 million parking garage including an underground terminal entrance, new rental car facilities, dedicated ground transportation area, improved eight-lane terminal access on two levels, and a new atrium and entrances in 2000, which were designed by URS Corporation.[10][13]

On April 25, 2004, a new 195-foot (59 m) control tower directed its first aircraft, ushering in the beginning of several major facility enhancements to be constructed through 2025.[10]

On October 21, 2010, a new arrivals/departures board was installed in the place of the old one in the main entrance area

Port Columbus is currently going under a Terminal Modernization Program, which includes new terrazzo flooring throughout the airport, new restrooms, and new LED lighting. Construction started on Concourse A in late 2012 and is expected to be complete throughout the concourse in July 2013.


On-site facilities

In 2001, Executive Jet Aviation (now known as NetJets, opened up a 200,000-square-foot (19,000 m2) operational headquarters at Port Columbus International Airport.[14]

In November 2006, Skybus Airlines began leasing 100,000 square feet (9,300 m2) of office and hangar facilities at the Columbus International AirCenter adjacent to Port Columbus.[15]

American Eagle Airlines operates a maintenance base at Port Columbus, along with Republic Airways who operate their flagship base at Port Columbus.


The original 1929 layout for the airport covered 524 acres (212 ha), with two runways 2,500 feet (760 m) and 3,500 feet (1,070 m) long.[16] In 1952 the current south runway was lengthened to 8,000 feet (2,400 m), making it the longest runway in the midwest at the time.[10] The north runway was extended to 8,000 feet (2,400 m) in 1997[10] and the south runway has since been extended to 10,125 feet (3,086 m).[1]

Port Columbus international Airport covers 2,185 acres (884 ha) and has two runways:[1]

  • Runway 10R/28L: 10,125 x 150 ft (3,086 x 46 m), air carrier runway, ILS equipped.
  • Runway 10L/28R: 8,000 x 150 ft (2,438 x 46 m), air carrier runway, ILS equipped.

Runway 10L/28R is just north of the 40th Parallel North.


For the 12-month period ending January 1, 2009, the airport had 163,984 aircraft operations, an average of 449 per day: 44% air taxi, 18% general aviation, 37% scheduled commercial, and 1% military. There are 92 aircraft based at this airport: 46% single engine, 16% multi-engine, 37% jet aircraft, and 1% helicopters.[1]

Terminals, airlines and destinations

The first major airline to fly into Port Columbus was TWA, and it kept a presence at Columbus over seventy years during the era of airline regulation.[10] TWA offered a club for exclusive passengers up until 2000 when America West took over a gate held by TWA and the club itself due to financial problems.[17]

Port Columbus International Airport was formerly a hub of America West Airlines in the 1990s, but the company closed the hub in 2003. America West eliminated the Columbus hub as result of financial losses at the hub, overall financial losses at the airline, and a weak airline market after September 11, 2001.[17]

The airport was the home base of short-lived Skybus Airlines, which began operations from Port Columbus on May 22, 2007. The airline touted themselves as the cheapest airline in the United States, offering a minimum of ten seats for $10 each on every flight. Skybus ceased operations April 4, 2008.

Port Columbus International Airport has 3 airport terminals, which contain 44 gates total: Concourse A (gates A1 – A7), Concourse B (gates B15 – B36), and Concourse C (gates C46 – C56).

Top destinations

Busiest Domestic Routes from CMH (January 2010 – December 2010)[18]
Rank City Passengers Carriers
1 Atlanta, GA 349,000 AirTran, Delta
2 Chicago, IL (ORD) 273,000 American, United
3 Chicago, IL (MDW) 212,000 Southwest
4 Charlotte, NC 170,000 US Airways
5 Dallas/Fort Worth, TX 150,000 American
6 Orlando, FL 148,000 AirTran, Southwest
7 New York, NY (LGA) 146,000 American, Delta, US Airways
8 Baltimore, MD 146,000 Southwest
9 Phoenix, AZ 126,000 Southwest, US Airways
10 Philadelphia, PA 101,000 US Airways

Incidents and accidents

June 27, 1954

An American Airlines Convair CV-240 (N94263) from Dayton International Airport was on approach to Runway 27 at 300 feet (91 m) when the left side of the plane collided with a US Navy Beechcraft SNB-2C Navigator (BuA23773), also on approach. The Convair recovered and landed, though the nose gear collapsed on landing. The Beechcraft crashed short of the runway, killing two on board.[19]

The probable cause was attributed to "A traffic control situation created by the tower local controller which he allowed to continue without taking the necessary corrective action. A contributing factor was the failure of both crews to detect this situation by visual and/or aural vigilance."[19]

January 7, 1990

A Piper Aztec from Duluth, Minnesota, veered off the left side of the runway when the nose gear collapsed on landing. The aircraft was damaged significantly, though the pilot survived. The pilot reported having difficulty with the landing gear during taxi from Duluth, and witnesses reported seeing the nose gear of the aircraft canted 60 degrees left during landing.[20]

The probable cause was attributed to "Pilot's inadequate preflight of the airplane and the continued operation of the airplane with a nose gear steering problem."[20]

July 1, 1991

A New Creations Learjet 25XR (N458J) from Philadelphia International Airport lost sight of the runway on approach in heavy rain and lost directional control, resulting in no fatalities.[21]

The probable cause was attributed to "The failure of the pilot to maintain visual reference with the runway during a landing, which resulted in a loss of directional control. Also causal to the accident was the pilot's failure to initiate a go-around, after he lost sight of the runway during the touchdown. Factors related to the accident were the heavy rain and the lack of runway centerline lights."[21]

January 7, 1994

An Atlantic Coast Airlines/United Express BAe Jetstream 41 (N304UE) was on approach to runway 28L when it entered into a stall at 430 feet (130 m) above runway level. The aircraft collided with a stand of trees and came to rest inside a commercial building 1.2 miles (1.9 km) short of the runway and burst into flames. The accident killed two of three crewmembers and five of nine passengers.[22]

The probable cause was attributed to "(1) An aerodynamic stall that occurred when the flight crew allowed the airspeed to decay to stall speed following a very poorly planned and executed approach characterized by an absence of procedural discipline; (2) Improper pilot response to the stall warning, including failure to advance the power levers to maximum, and inappropriately raising the flaps; (3) Flight crew experience in 'glass cockpit' automated aircraft, aircraft type and in seat position, a situation exacerbated by a side letter of agreement between the company and its pilots; and (4) the company's failure to provide adequate stabilized approach criteria, and the FAA's failure to require such criteria. Member Vogt concluded that the last factor was contributory but not causal to the accident. Additionally, for the following two factors, Chairman Hall and Member Lauber concluded that they were causal to the accident, while Members Vogt and Hammerschmidt concluded they were contributory to the accident: (5) The company's failure to provide adequate crew resource management training, and the FAA's failure to require such training; and (6) the unavailability of suitable training simulators that precluded fully effective flight crew training."[22]

February 16, 1999

America West Airlines flight 2811, an Airbus A320 (N628AW), experienced a landing gear malfunction during approach to CMH. After visual confirmation of the fault from the ground, the pilot initiated a missed approach and declared an emergency. On the second approach, the plane landed. Damage was limited to the nose landing gear rims and tires. The incident was very similar to the more recent JetBlue Airways Flight 292.[23]

May 2, 1999

During taxiing, a Cessna 172 accidentally entered a perimeter road instead of Taxiway Charlie. After turning onto the road, the Cessna struck a fence with its left wing. Investigation revealed that the perimeter road was unmarked.[24]

The probable cause was attributed to "The pilot's failure to maintain obstacle clearance and his visual perception of the perimeter road as Taxiway Charlie. A factor in the accident was the absence of a sign identifying the perimeter road."[24]



The airport is accessible directly by taking exit number nine on Interstate 670 to International Gateway. Alternatively, drivers located south of the airport can also get to the airport via Hamilton Road, just south of Interstate 270, and enter at Sawyer Road.[7]

Parking is available long-term and short-term in the six-story attached parking garage, though the first two levels are dedicated to rental cars. Additional long-term parking is also available in three outdoor lots along International Gateway, named blue, green and red. Both lots access the terminal via a free shuttle, which runs continuously throughout the day. Additionally, there is a small "cell phone lot" accessed from the outbound side of International Gateway.[25][26]


Port Columbus can be accessed by bus via the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA). Two routes are offered to and from the airport, route 92 which serves the east side of Columbus throughout the day and route 52 which serves Ohio State University during school breaks. Those wishing to take the bus from other regions of central Ohio to the airport must take other buses and transfer to either route.[27] The GoBus operates a twice daily schedule to Athens Ohio and back.


Inbound taxi services are offered through numerous taxi businesses in the Columbus area. Outbound taxi services are offered through numerous taxi companies that are waiting in the taxi lane.[28]

Airport shuttle

Shuttle services are offered every twenty minutes taking passengers to the heart of Downtown Columbus. Other shuttle services transport passengers to other directions other than downtown.[29]



External links

Ohio portal
Aviation portal
  • National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) CMH Local
  • Port Columbus International Airport (official site)
  • Real-Time Flight Information for Port Columbus
  • PDF), effective July 24, 2014
  • Resources for this airport:
    • AirNav airport information for KCMH
    • ASN accident history for CMH
    • FlightAware live flight tracker
    • NOAA/NWS latest weather observations
    • SkyVector aeronautical chart for KCMH
    • FAA current CMH delay information
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