Sullenberger could be a hero to SJ Airport

February 26, 2010 2:41:54 PM PST
US Airways Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger is already an acknowledged hero for his safe landing in the Hudson River. Officials at Mineta San Jose International Airport are hoping he can be their hero, too.

Sullenberger is the draw at today's "Heroes and Hardhats" business luncheon where representatives from Silicon Valley's leading companies have been invited to take a hard hat tour of the new Terminal B project. Airport officials are hoping to entice corporate leaders, who will benefit from the terminal's expanded gates, to underwrite a grand opening party in June.

As we've reported on ABC7 News, the airport's finances are tight and getting tighter as a result of a decline in passengers and with cutbacks in flights. Frontier Airlines recently announced it will pull out of Mineta San Jose in a few weeks. For example, service on its bond obligations last year was $23 million, but it will soar to $40 million next year as a result of recent expansion projects that were planned before the recession.

Airport spokesman David Vossbrink says there is no set budget for the grand opening. If there is an event, it will have to be financed by private contributions, not public funds. Depending on private contributions, the celebration could be a black tie and champagne event or a low-brow gathering. Some have suggested the tab for a first-class event could run $200,000. .