SFO, Airline Carriers Key to Economic Growth

In today’s global economy, economic growth depends on successful and robust air transit that can effectively move residents, visitors and cargo in and out of our region and state. That is why the Bay Area is so fortunate that the San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and its airline partners have planned and invested in infrastructure and service expansions that are allowing for continued passenger growth and enhanced trade and commerce across the region. In fact, if current projections hold true, 2012 will set new records, giving significant boost to the Bay Area economy.

As the region’s largest airport – and the 8th busiest airport in the nation – SFO has made substantial renovations to increase capacity and deliver an unparalleled passenger experience. While many improvements have been made to runways, transit and other airport structures, the recent reopening of Terminal 2 (T2), housing Virgin America and American Airlines, has set the new gold standard for the passenger experience. T2 has won accolades for its sustainability, modern design and human touches that make it a first-of-its-kind travel experience unmatched anywhere around the globe.

Other important airport upgrades are still underway. Architects, planners and engineers are actively working on the renovation of Boarding Area “E” in Terminal 3 (T3) and the complete upgrade and modernization of Terminal 1 (T1), which is used by a number of carriers including Southwest Airlines. Later this summer, representatives from SFO will be joined by their counterparts with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to break ground for a new Air Traffic Control Tower, which will bring yet another sleek and iconic landmark to the airport.

These continuing improvements have paved the way for unprecedented service expansions which are fueling passenger growth. Today, SFO offers non-stop flights to more than 31 international locations on five different continents by 28 international carriers. Recent service expansions include new non-stop flights to London, Paris and cities throughout Europe, as well as added service to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and Lima, Peru. The airport will soon offer more than 74 non-stop U.S. destinations on 18 domestic airlines.

United Airlines in particular is responsible for much of SFO’s passenger traffic, carrying 45 percent of all passengers in and out of the airport. The recently completed merger with Continental Airlines has expanded United’s schedule throughout the northeast United States, Central America and the Caribbean. Internationally, United Airlines operates 50 daily non-stop flights from SFO to 17 different cities. Domestically, United offers 450 departures every day and serves 65 non-stop destinations, with multiple daily flights to key business markets such as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Houston. United continues to grow at SFO, including a new non-stop Washington D.C. flight to Reagan National, which begins mid-May.

As the Bay Area economy continues to rebound, there is no doubt that SFO and its airline partners are playing a key role in the region’s future economic growth. The Chamber applauds SFO Executive Director John Martin and his staff for their vision and commitment to our region’s airport. We thank the regional municipalities and transit agencies that continue to support SFO. And we salute the many airline carriers that continue to set the standard and help make SFO and our region world-class destinations.