Oakland Airport Plans Expansion

Oakland International Airport's growing popularity as an alternative to San Francisco's airport could be enhanced by a proposed $1.5 billion expansion project that would greatly increase the airport's number of gates and parking spaces.

By: David Peterkofsky

Oakland International Airport's growing popularity as an alternative to San Francisco's airport could be enhanced by a proposed $1.5 billion expansion project that would greatly increase the airport's number of gates and parking spaces.

Key elements of the six-year expansion plan - to be voted on by the Oakland Port Commission later this summer - include: a new terminal building, slated to open in 2006 or 2007; an increase in the number of gates from 22 to 34; and a 6,000-space parking garage, which will most likely open in 2004. Another 4,000-space, off-site parking lot is scheduled to open in 2002.

With Oakland's rise in popularity among travelers and airlines, the planned expansion should cement the airport's appeal as an alternative to the delay-prone and frequently fog-shrouded airport across the bay. OAK is on pace to handle 12 million passengers in 2001, up from 10.6 million in 2000. One estimate pegs the airport's passenger traffic growth to balloon to 22 million by 2010.

The airport's rise in traffic comes from recently inaugurated service by a number of carriers, including Aloha Airlines (to Hawaii), Continental (to Houston and Newark), JetBlue (to New York's JFK) and American (to Los Angeles). In all, a dozen carriers fly in and out of OAK on a daily basis.

Also contributing to Oakland's growth is Southwest Airlines, which earlier this year pulled out of SFO altogether and shifted eight of its daily flights to OAK.

OAK also has relatively fog-free weather working to its advantage. Approximately 72.9% of flights in and out of OAK were on time last year, according to the Department of Transportation, compared with a 65.3% rating for SFO. Best in the region, however, was San Jose, which came in at 73.5% for the year.

Parking rates at the airport have increased as well. Starting this summer, the cost of long-term parking rose from $12 per day to $18 for the first day and $15 per day after that. Overflow parking prices have increased from $10 to $15 for the first day and $12 on subsequent days.

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