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Mineta San Jose Airport reaches out to passengers

A plane takes off at Mineta San Jose International Airport.
March 18, 2013 7:43:46 PM PDT
There are encouraging signs of recovery at two of the Bay Area's three airports following the recession that battered the region's economy. The exception is in San Jose.

Mineta San Jose International Airport is suffering from a classic case of sagging supply and demand which has led to an almost 1 percent drop in passenger traffic. Meanwhile San Francisco and Oakland airports each saw 8 percent increases.

$1.3 billion was spent at Mineta International building a new Terminal B and modernizing Terminal A during the recession, giving the facility high marks for appearance and for convenience.

"It's clean and nice and fast, and I live in San Francisco and you can get back and forth in a cab, in you know, 80 minutes which sometimes if you fly into Oakland you get stuck in traffic and it's not any faster to get out of Oakland," said San Francisco resident David Gale.

You can tell from a few shuttered restaurants and concession stands that San Jose's expanded airport isn't operating anywhere close to capacity. Just over 8 million passengers flew in and out of San Jose last year though, it can handle 14 million.

A new common-use airport lounge, called The Club at SJC is an example of some upscale facilities built to draw more passengers.

The good news is that Virgin America Airlines is coming to San Jose in May and All Nippon Airways plans to resume Tokyo flights once the 787 Dreamliner is given clearance to fly.

"We also have tremendous capacity both here in our facilities as well as on our airfield. And we're well positioned for the future, and we're seeing that airlines are recognizing that we are a good fit for the customers that they serve here in the South Bay," said Mineta San Jose International Airport spokesperson Rosemary Barnes

The solution might be to get airlines to think of the three Bay Area airports as one.

A leading business group would like to address San Jose's lack of growth by possibly putting the Bay Area's three airports under one centralized management.

"What we need to do is distribute all of the carriers, especially help the major carriers understand that there's business in San Jose. It's Silicon Valley after all. And right now we have this phenomenon of these business customers bypassing their own airport and going all the way to San Francisco." said Joint Venture Silicon Valley CEO Russell Hancock.

Not all is bad for Mineta San Jose International as the airport clearly has its fans.

"I like the airport here. I think it's very efficient, and I'm happy," said frequent San Jose flyer Sylvia Morrell.

Despite the disappointing number of passengers and flights the airport plans to move ahead with a new $82 million general aviation terminal because of the anticipated growth of private jets operated by Silicon Valley companies. The proposal will go before the city council for final approval in early April.


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