Oakland International Airport considering changing its name

The Port of Oakland is considering changing the name of Metropolitan Oakland International Airport (OAK) to San Francisco Bay Oakland International Airport.

It believes that changing the airport’s name – it is most commonly known as Oakland International Airport – could boost its market presence by making global travellers more aware of its location.

The news hasn’t been met well by San Francisco International Airport (SFO), however, which claims that the name switch is unnecessary and will just cause confusion.

“The Port is considering a name modification to boost inbound travellers’ geographic awareness of the airport’s location on the San Francisco Bay,” explains Port Commission president, Barbara Leslie.

“This will protect our airport’s over 30,000 good-paying, direct jobs and $1.6 billion in economic impact on the region.”

OAK claims to have strong support for the name change from its airline partners.

“Oakland helped put us on the map in California and we’re wholeheartedly supportive of this rebranding that acknowledges OAK’s economic position and influence in the San Francisco Bay area while staying true to its Oakland roots,” says Jennifer Bridie, vice president of marketing communications and strategy at Southwest Airlines.

OAK says that it consistently hears from local travellers about their desire for more direct flights to domestic and global destinations, and it believes that to make this happen, travellers who live outside the region need to learn that OAK is located in the San Francisco Bay Area and close to the region’s top destinations.

“Market research and interviews with airline partners have shown that routes have not performed as well as they should have due to the lack of geographic awareness, making air carriers reluctant to sustain and add new routes in Oakland,” said Port of Oakland Interim director of aviation Craig Simon.

“From July 2008 to March 2024, the Airport added 54 new routes; 39 of these and 6 pre-existing destinations were lost.”

Modifying the airport’s name is part of a broader effort to improve the passenger experience at OAK, including upgrading the Terminal 1 check-in lobby, restroom facilities, and providing new, local concessions and restaurants.

The Port Commissioners will consider the name modification of the airport at their April 11, 2024, Port Board meeting.

Once the Port Commission has considered the name modification and taken an action, staff will move forward with the formal renaming, including working with air carriers, other airports and local agencies to reflect the modification in airport and airline systems.

However, the San Francisco International Airport (SFO) has expressed serious concerns over a proposed initiative to rename the gateway as San Francisco Bay Oakland International Airport.

SFO’s airport director, Ivar Satero, stated: “We are deeply concerned about the potential for customer confusion and disservice that could result from this proposed renaming.

“SFO has operated since 1927 and has used the name ‘San Francisco Airport’ or ‘San Francisco International Airport’ for most of its history, making it immediately recognisable to customers.

“Given this history, we anticipate the new name being considered by the Metropolitan Oakland International Airport will cause confusion for the public, either through a misunderstanding of its physical location or its perceived relationship to SFO. This concern is only compounded considering SFO’s status as a major international gateway.

“We request the Metropolitan Oakland International Airport not proceed with any name change that would incorporate the use of ‘San Francisco’, as this would only result in confusion and inconvenience to the traveling public we all serve.”

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