San Diego International Airport

San Diego International Airport
San Diego International Airport logo May 2017.png
San Diego International Airport (KSAN) Terminal 2 (upper deck) - August 2018.jpg
Summary
Airport typePublic
Owner/OperatorSan Diego County Regional Airport Authority
ServesGreater San Diego
Location
OpenedAugust 16, 1928
(93 years ago)
 (1928-08-16)
Focus city forAlaska Airlines
Elevation AMSL17 ft / 5 m
Coordinates32°44′01″N 117°11′23″W / 32.73361°N 117.18972°W / 32.73361; -117.18972Coordinates: 32°44′01″N 117°11′23″W / 32.73361°N 117.18972°W / 32.73361; -117.18972
Websitewww.san.org
Maps
FAA airport diagram as of June 2019[update]
FAA airport diagram as of June 2019
Runways
Direction Length Surface
ft m
09/27 9,400 2,865 Asphalt/Concrete
Statistics (2021)
Total passengers15,602,505
Aircraft operations162,828
Sources: San Diego County Airport Authority,[1] Alaska Airlines[2]
Statistics: San Diego County Airport Authority[3][4]

San Diego International Airport (IATA: SAN, ICAO: KSAN, FAA LID: SAN), formerly known as Lindbergh Field, is an international airport three miles (4.8 km) northwest of Downtown San Diego, California, United States. It is owned and operated by the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority.[5][6] The airport covers 663 acres (268 ha) of land.[5] While primarily serving domestic traffic, San Diego has nonstop international flights to destinations in Canada, Germany, Japan, Mexico, and the United Kingdom.[7]

San Diego International Airport is the second busiest single-runway airport in the world.[a][8] The airport's landing approach is well known for its close proximity to the skyscrapers of Downtown San Diego,[9] and can sometimes prove difficult to pilots for the relatively short usable landing area, steep descent angle over the crest of Bankers Hill, and shifting wind currents just before landing.[10][11] San Diego International operates in controlled airspace served by the Southern California TRACON, which is some of the busiest airspace in the world.[12]

History[]

Spirit of St. Louis replica inside the airport

Prior to the development of the airport, the area was a delta river outlet for the San Diego River into the San Diego Bay, which was then re routed to terminate to the Pacific Ocean parallel to Mission Bay.[13]

The airport is near the site of the Ryan Airlines factory, but it is not the same as Dutch Flats Airport, the Ryan airfield where Charles Lindbergh flight-tested the Spirit of St. Louis before his historic 1927 transatlantic flight. The site of Dutch Flats is on the other side of the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, in the Midway neighborhood, near the intersection of Midway and Barnett avenues.[14]

Inspired by Lindbergh's flight and excited to have made his plane, the city of San Diego passed a bond issue in 1928 for the construction of a two-runway municipal airport. Lindbergh encouraged the building of the airport and agreed to lend his name to it.[15] The new airport, dedicated on August 16, 1928, was San Diego Municipal Airport – Lindbergh Field with 140 Navy and 82 Army planes involved in a flyover.

The airport was the first federally certified airfield to serve all aircraft types, including seaplanes.[16][17] The original terminal was on the northeast side of the field, on Pacific Highway.[16] The airport was also a testing facility for several early US sailplane designs, notably those by William Hawley Bowlus (superintendent of construction on the Spirit of St. Louis) who also operated the Bowlus Glider School at Lindbergh Field from 1929 to 1930.[18] The airport was also the site of a national and world record for women's altitude established in 1930 by Ruth Alexander.[19][20] The airport was also the site of the first transcontinental glider tow by Capt. Frank Hawks departing Lindbergh Field on March 30, 1930, and ending in Van Cortland Park in New York City on April 6, 1930. On June 1, 1930, a regular San Diego–Los Angeles airmail route started. The airport gained international airport status in 1934. In April 1937, United States Coast Guard Air Base was commissioned next to the airfield.[21] The Coast Guard's fixed-wing aircraft used Lindbergh Field until the mid-1990s when their fixed-wing aircraft were assigned elsewhere.[22]

A major defense contractor and contributor to World War II heavy bomber production, Consolidated Aircraft, later known as Convair, had their headquarters on the border of Lindbergh Field, and built many of their military aircraft there. Convair used the airport for test and delivery flights from 1935 to 1995.[23]

The US Army Air Corps took over the field in 1942, improving it to handle the heavy bombers being manufactured in the region. Two camps were established at the airport during World War II and were named Camp Consair and Camp Sahara.[24] This transformation, including an 8,750 ft (2,670 m) runway, made the airport "jet-ready" long before jet airliners came into service.[25] The May 1952 C&GS chart shows an 8,700-ft runway 9 and a 4,500-ft runway 13.

Pacific Southwest Airlines (PSA) established its headquarters in San Diego and started service at Lindbergh Field in 1949. The April 1957 Official Airline Guide shows 42 departures per day: 14 American, 13 United, 6 Western, 6 Bonanza, and 3 PSA (5 PSA on Friday and Sunday). American had a nonstop flight to Dallas and one to El Paso; aside from that, nonstop flights did not reach beyond California and Arizona. Nonstop flights to Chicago started in 1962 and to New York in 1967.

The first scheduled flights using jets at Lindbergh Field were in September 1960: American Airlines Boeing 720s to Phoenix and United Airlines 720s to San Francisco.

The original terminal was on the north side of the airport; the current Terminal 1 opened on the south side of the airport on March 5, 1967. Terminal 2 opened on July 11, 1979. These terminals were designed by Paderewski Dean & Associates.[26] A third terminal, dubbed the Commuter Terminal, opened July 23, 1996. Terminal 2 was expanded by 300,000 square feet (27,871 m2) in 1998, and opened on January 7, 1998. The expanded Terminal 2 and the Commuter Terminal were designed by Gensler and SGPA Architecture and Planning.[27][28] The airport was built and operated by the City of San Diego through the sale of municipal bonds to be repaid by airport users. In 1962 it was transferred to the San Diego Unified Port District by a state law. In 2001 the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority was created, and assumed jurisdiction over the airport in December 2002.[29] The Authority changed the airport's name from Lindbergh Field to San Diego International Airport in 2003, reportedly considering the new name "a better fit for a major commercial airport."[30]

San Diego gained a nonstop transatlantic flight in March 2001, when British Airways eliminated the halt in Phoenix on its route to London. The airline had served San Diego intermittently since 1988; the flights always included a stopover, however.[31][32] British Airways left the city in 2003 but returned eight years later.[31]

Relocation proposals[]

San Diego International Airport's former Commuter Terminal houses administrative offices for the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority.

In the jet age there have been concerns about a relatively small airport constrained by terrain serving as the area's primary airport; at one point acting Civil Aeronautics Authority administrator William B. Davis said he doubted any jet airline would use it.[33] In 1950 the city acquired what is today Montgomery Field and much of the land surrounding it through eminent domain to build a new airport, but the Korean War brought with it a massive expansion in jet traffic to nearby Naval Air Station Miramar, which soon rendered a commercial service airport in the area impractical. The CAA refused to fund any major enhancements to SDIA through the 1950s, and at various times the city proposed NAS North Island, Mission Bay, and Brown Field as replacements. Cost, conflicts with the Navy, and potential interference with other air traffic stymied these plans.[33]

It was not until 1964 that the FAA would finally agree to an expansion of SDIA, which at this point was over double the capacity of its 1940s era terminals, leading to the construction of today's Terminal 1. Even then, it was only allowed with the assurance of San Diego Mayor Charles Dail that it was only a temporary measure until a replacement could be found.[34] From that time until 2006, various public agencies conducted studies on potential locations for a replacement airport. One revisited a study done in the 1980s by the City in 1994 when Naval Air Station Miramar closed and was then immediately transferred to the US Marine Corps as Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. Another was by the City of San Diego in 1984 and another that started in 1996 and sat dormant with SANDAG until the airport authority was formed. This is the first study ever done to look for a new site by a public agency that actually had jurisdiction over the issue, and the first non-site specific comprehensive study of the entire region.

California State Assembly Bill 93 created the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority (SDCRAA) in 2001.[29] At the time, the SDCRAA projected SAN would be constrained by congestion between 2015 and 2022;[35] the Great Recession, however, extended the forecast capacity limitations into the 2030s.[36] In June 2006, SDCRAA board members selected Marine Corps Air Station Miramar as its preferred site for a replacement airport, despite military objections the compromises this would require would severely interfere with the readiness and training of aviators stationed at the air station.[37] On November 7, 2006, San Diego County residents rejected an advisory relocation ballot that included a joint use proposal measure over these and related concerns over the potential impact reducing the region's military value would have on the defense-focused San Diego economy.[38] Since then no public agency has placed forth a serious proposal to relocate SDIA, and the Airport Authority has stated it has no plans to do so for the foreseeable future.[39]

Expansion[]

San Diego International Airport's expansion and enhancement program for Terminal 2 was dubbed "The Green Build". Additions include 10 gates on the west side of Terminal 2 West, a two-level roadway separating arriving and departing passengers, additional security lanes, and an expanded concession area.[40] It was completed on August 13, 2013, and cost US$900 million.[41] In January 2016, the airport opened a new consolidated rental car facility on the airport's north side. The US$316 million, 2-million-square-foot (190,000 m2) facility houses 14 rental car companies and is served by shuttle buses to and from the terminals.[42] A new three-story parking structure in front of Terminal 2 was launched in July 2016 and completed in May 2018.[41][43]

The Airport Development Plan (ADP) is the next master-planning phase for San Diego International Airport.[44] In 2006, a county-wide ballot measure to move the airport was defeated. Therefore, the airport will continue in its current location for the foreseeable future. The ADP identifies improvements that will enable the airport to meet demand through 2035, which is approximately when projected passenger activity levels will reach capacity for the airport's single runway. An additional runway is not under consideration.

The ADP envisions the replacement of Terminal 1 and related improvements. As a first step in the ADP, several potential concepts were developed. These concepts represented the first step in a comprehensive planning process.

Extensive public outreach was conducted to obtain input from residents and airport stakeholders in the San Diego region. The Airport Authority Board eventually selected a preferred alternative and a detailed environmental analysis is now under way. The environmental review and planning process is expected to conclude in spring 2017.

A new immigration and customs facility at Terminal 2 West began construction in 2017.[45][46] The new facility was completed in June 2018 and is almost five times the size of its predecessor.[47] Prior to its completion, gates 20, 21, and 22 in Terminal 2 East handled international arrivals. These arrivals are now handled at gates 47, 48, 49, 50, and 51 in Terminal 2 West. The construction of the new facility was due to the sharp rise of international travel at the airport; international arrivals increased "from 50,000 passengers a year in 1990 to more than 400,000 a year in 2017."[45][47]

San Diego International Airport is proceeding with a redevelopment plan, starting with reconstruction of Terminal 1. This work is scheduled to be completed by 2026. The number of gates will increase from 19 gates in the old Terminal 1 to 30 gates in the new Terminal 1. Other parts of the redevelopment plan include a 7,500-space parking structure, a new dual-level roadway in front of the new Terminal 1, and a new entry road. Further changes are scheduled in later years for Terminal 2, which will increase the total number of gates at San Diego International Airport to 61. Completion of these changes are not expected until 2035.[48]

Facilities[]

San Diego International Airport Terminal 2

Terminals[]

San Diego International Airport has two terminals and 51 gates:

Runway[]

SAN runway and terminals

The airport has one runway, designated 09/27 for its magnetic headings of 095 degrees (106 True) and 275 degrees (286 True). The runway, built of asphalt and concrete, measures 9,400 by 200 feet (2,865 m × 61 m). Each end has a displaced threshold: on Runway 27, the first 1,810 feet (550 m) are displaced, while the first 1,000 feet (300 m) are displaced on Runway 9.

Westerly winds predominate, so most takeoffs and landings use Runway 27. The approach to Runway 27 is unusually steep due to utility poles and buildings over 200 ft (61 m) tall that are located within 2 miles (3.2 km) of the east end of the runway. Nearby skyscrapers are no factor.

The final approach to Runway 27 has also gained notoriety among passengers for the unusual experience of flying relatively low and close to San Diego's densely populated downtown, and has drawn comparisons to Kansas City's Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport and Hong Kong's former Kai Tak Airport.[49] From the left side of the aircraft, the approach offers closeup views of skyscrapers, Petco Park (home of the San Diego Padres), the San Diego Bay, and the San Diego–Coronado Bridge, while Balboa Park, site of the 1915–1916 Panama-California Exposition, can be seen on the right. Contrary to local lore, the parking garage located 800 feet (240 m) from the east of the end of the runway was built in the 1980s – long after previous obstructions also on the east side of I-5 were built – and does not affect the approach.

To appease the concerns of the airport's neighbors regarding noise and to head off any ensuing lawsuits, a curfew was implemented in 1979 whereby takeoffs are only allowed between 6:30 a.m. and 11:30 p.m. Outside these hours, they are subject to a large fine. Arrivals are permitted 24 hours per day.[50] While several flights have scheduled departure times before 6:30 a.m., these are pushback times, and the first takeoff roll does not occur until 6:30 a.m.

Ground transportation[]

The airport is on North Harbor Drive, which is accessible from Interstate 5 northbound via the Hawthorn Street exit and southbound via the Sassafras Street exit. Short-term parking is located in front of both terminals: Terminal 2 has covered parking plaza and an outdoor lot, while Terminal 1 only has an outdoor lot. Long term parking is on North Harbor Drive to the east of the terminals and is served by shuttle buses.[51]

Both terminals have designated areas for taxis and ride-share pickups.[52]

Public transportation[]

There are four public transportation options:

Extension of the San Diego Trolley, which goes across the street from the airport runway, to directly serve the airport terminals, has been proposed several times but has not yet come to fruition. A 2021 study has found that such an extension to the airport is feasible and could be completed within ten years.[56]

Military[]

Coast Guard Air Station San Diego is near the southeast corner of the airport. The installation originally supported seaplane operations, with seaplane ramps into San Diego Bay, as well as land-based aircraft and helicopter operations using the airport's runway. The air station is separated from the rest of the airfield, which required aircraft to cross North Harbor Drive – a busy, six-lane city street – at a traffic signal in order to reach the runway. This was a common occurrence during the 1970s, 1980s, and early 1990s, when the station had HH-3F Pelican and HH-60J Jayhawk helicopters and HU-25 Guardian jets assigned.[57] Following 9/11, the gate was closed and the traffic signals removed because the Coast Guard station no longer supports fixed wing operations.[citation needed]

Airline Support Building[]

The 93,000-square-foot (8,600 m2) Airline Support Building, which houses cargo operations and storage areas for aircraft provisions, and serves as a pick up and drop off point for live animals and large cargo, opened on July 20, 2021. Located on the south side of the airfield along North Harbor Drive, the building counts among its cargo tenants Alaska Airlines, American, Delta, Hawaiian, Lufthansa, Southwest, Sun Country, and United.[58] The design-build project to construct the facility was awarded to SUNDT construction in 2018 for approximately $130 million.[59]

Other facilities[]

BBA Aviation's Signature Flight Support (previously known as Landmark Aviation[60]) is the fixed-base operator (FBO) at San Diego International Airport.[61] It services all aircraft, from the single-engine Cessna aircraft to the Airbus A350. Generally, it services corporate traffic to the airport. The FBO ramp is at the northeast end of the airfield.

A portion of the southeast infield at San Diego International Airport is set aside as a nesting site for the endangered California least tern. The least tern nests from March through September. The birds lay their eggs in the sand and gravel surface at the southwest end of the airfield. The San Diego Zoological Society monitors the birds from May through September. The terns nest on the airfield because they do not have to compete with beachgoers, and the airport fence keeps dogs and other animals out, while the airplane activity helps keep predatory hawks away from the nests. Approximately 135 nests were established there in 2007.[62]

Airlines and destinations[]

Passenger[]

AirlinesDestinationsRefs
Air Canada Montréal–Trudeau, Toronto–Pearson, Vancouver [63] [64]
Air Canada Express Vancouver [65]
Alaska Airlines Austin, Boise, Boston, Everett, Fresno, Honolulu, Kahului, Kailua–Kona, Lihue, Monterey, Newark, New York–JFK, Orlando, Portland (OR), Puerto Vallarta, Redmond/Bend, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, San Jose (CA), San José del Cabo, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Rosa, Seattle/Tacoma, Spokane
Seasonal: Bozeman, Cancún, Fort Lauderdale, Glacier Park/Kalispell, Hayden/Steamboat Springs, Jackson Hole, Missoula
[66]
Allegiant Air Austin,[67] Bellingham, Las Vegas, Provo (begins August 18, 2022),[68]
Seasonal: Billings, Des Moines, El Paso, Eugene, Idaho Falls, Medford, Phoenix/Mesa, Sioux Falls, Tri-Cities
[69]
American Airlines Charlotte, Chicago–O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami, Philadelphia, Phoenix–Sky Harbor [70]
British Airways London–Heathrow [71]
Delta Air Lines Atlanta, Boston (begins July 11, 2022),[72] Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York–JFK, Salt Lake City, Seattle/Tacoma [73]
Delta Connection Los Angeles [73]
Frontier Airlines Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, Las Vegas, Phoenix–Sky Harbor [74]
Hawaiian Airlines Honolulu, Kahului [75]
Japan Airlines Tokyo–Narita [76]
JetBlue Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Newark (resumes September 30, 2022),[77] New York–JFK [78]
JSX Las Vegas [79]
Lufthansa Munich [80]
Southwest Airlines Albuquerque, Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Boise, Chicago–Midway, Dallas–Love, Denver, El Paso, Honolulu, Houston–Hobby, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Nashville, New Orleans, Oakland, Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Portland (OR) (resumes September 4, 2022),[81] Reno/Tahoe, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Francisco, San Jose (CA), San José del Cabo, St. Louis, Tucson
Seasonal: Bozeman, Colorado Springs (begins November 20, 2022)[82]
[83]
Spirit Airlines Chicago–O'Hare, Houston–Intercontinental, Las Vegas, Oakland[84]
Seasonal: Dallas/Fort Worth, Detroit
[85]
Sun Country Airlines Minneapolis/St. Paul
[86]
Swoop Edmonton[87]
United Airlines Chicago–O'Hare, Denver, Houston–Intercontinental, Newark, San Francisco, Washington–Dulles [88]
United Express Los Angeles, San Francisco [88]
WestJet Calgary
Seasonal: Vancouver
[89]

Cargo[]

AirlinesDestinations
Ameriflight Imperial, Ontario
DHL Aviation
operating as iAero Airways
Cincinnati, Phoenix–Sky Harbor
FedEx Express Denver, Indianapolis, Memphis, Los Angeles, Oakland, Phoenix-Sky Harbor, Tijuana
UPS Airlines Louisville, Ontario
West Air
on behalf of Fedex Express
Imperial

Statistics[]

Top destinations[]

Busiest domestic routes from SAN (April 2021 – March 2022)[90]
Rank City Passengers Carriers
1 Denver, Colorado 641,000 Frontier, Southwest, United
2 Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Arizona 569,000 American, Frontier, Southwest
3 Seattle/Tacoma, Washington 534,000 Alaska, Delta
4 Las Vegas, Nevada 506,000 Allegiant, Delta, Frontier, Southwest, Spirit
5 Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas 500,000 American, Spirit
6 San Francisco, California 474,000 Alaska, Southwest, United
7 Sacramento, California 415,000 Alaska, Southwest
8 Chicago–O'Hare, Illinois 392,000 American, Spirit, United
9 San Jose, California 373,000 Alaska, Southwest
10 Atlanta, Georgia 328,000 Delta, Southwest
Busiest international routes to and from San Diego (2019)[91]
Rank City Passengers Carriers
1 San José del Cabo, Mexico 245,059 Alaska, Southwest, Sun Country
2 London–Heathrow, United Kingdom 168,312 British Airways
3 Vancouver, Canada 146,367 Air Canada, WestJet
4 Toronto–Pearson, Canada 123,479 Air Canada
5 Tokyo–Narita, Japan 120,831 Japan Airlines
6 Frankfurt, Germany 104,359 Lufthansa
7 Calgary, Canada 66,262 WestJet
8 Puerto Vallarta, Mexico 62,507 Alaska
9 Zurich, Switzerland 7,529 Edelweiss

Airline market share[]

Airline market share at SAN (June 2020 - May 2021)[92]
Rank Airline Passengers Share
1 Southwest Airlines 2,932,000 34.81%
2 American Airlines 1,377,000 16.35%
3 Delta Air Lines 968,000 11.49%
4 United Airlines 939,000 11.15%
5 Alaska Airlines 682,000 8.10%

Airport traffic[]

Annual passenger traffic at SAN airport. See source Wikidata query.

Accidents and incidents[]

See also[]

Notes[]

  1. ^ London-Gatwick and Mumbai International, which both handle slightly more traffic, each have two operational runways, though only one can be used at a time because of aircraft separation requirements (leading to these airports frequently being misleadingly referred to as "single-runway airports").

References[]

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External links[]

Media related to San Diego International Airport at Wikimedia Commons