Continental to stop flying to Oakland

June 15, 2008 11:23:33 AM PDT
Continental Airlines said it will stop serving Oakland in early September. Continental lost $4 million on its Oakland routes last year, and with fuel prices on the rise, they just can't continue.Oakland airport thought the sky was the limit. Passenger traffic was rising annually for the past 10 years. "In 2004 the FAA forecast clearly showed our airport was continuing to grow. We would need to continue to add capacity, and we had planned to build a third terminal as a result. That's all been put on hold," says Oakland Airport spokesperson Rosemary Barnes. The reason is pure economics. In April, Oakland lost three airlines to bankruptcy. Two others, American and Continental -- will end Oakland service Sept. 3rd because they're losing money on flights to Dallas and Houston. Oakland International will lose landing fees and income from ticket counter and back office rent. "There will be a change in costs here. Less passengers basically equate to more costs passed along to the airlines, so they're aware there will be costs, but again, that our focus is on keeping those costs low," says Barnes. That also means fewer passengers passing through the terminals, impacting sales for vendors. "Everywhere it's tight. Everyone is losing jobs everywhere because of everything that's happening with the economy. So, we're just crossing our fingers, hoping we can stay afloat." says of Training Grounds. Training Grounds is a coffee and snack shop that supports an Oakland nonprofit that runs a youth employment program. An estimated 350 fewer passengers pass through the airport per day because of airline cutbacks. Oakland airport has turned maintenance hangars into billboard space to boost revenues. It also plans to promote use of its on-site parking lots. Oakland won't be alone facing this crisis. What we're seeing here is a regional problem. We have three Bay Area airports competing with fewer airlines going after fewer passengers. And the Oakland Airport staff is bracing itself for possible layoffs, faced with a 15 to 20 percent hit in its budget.

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