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Norman Y. Mineta San José International Airport
SJC logo.png
Airport type Public
Owner City of San José
Serves San José, California
Elevation AMSL 62 ft / 19 m
Coordinates 37°21′46″N 121°55′45″W / 37.36278°N 121.92917°W / 37.36278; -121.92917
Direction Length Surface
ft m
12L/30R 11,000 3,353 Concrete
12R/30L 11,000 3,353 Concrete
11/29 4,599 1,402 Asphalt
Statistics (2006)
Passenger boardings 5,283,407
Aircraft operations 213,107
Based aircraft 176
Sources: airport web site[1], FAA Airport Master Record[2] and FAA Passenger Boarding Data[3]

Norman Y. Mineta San José International Airport[1] (IATA: SJCICAO: KSJCFAA LID: SJC) is a city-owned public-use airport serving the city of San José[4] in Santa Clara County, California, United States. It is located two nautical miles (4 km) northwest of Downtown San Jose[2][5], near the intersections of three major freeways, U.S. Route 101, Interstate 880, and State Route 87. The airport's largest carrier at this time is Southwest Airlines. Alaska Airlines, along with its regional subsidary, Horizon Air, is the second largest carrier at the airport. The airline also operates most of its departing flights from the Bay Area out of SJC.



The approach from the southeast over downtown San Jose to runway 30L

Despite San Jose's position as the most populous city in the San Francisco Bay Area, SJC is the smallest of the three Bay Area airports offering scheduled service (10.9 million passengers annual in 2006), with less than one third the passengers of the region's major international airport San Francisco International Airport (SFO), and fewer passengers than Oakland International Airport (OAK). Like the Oakland airport, it attracts Bay Area residents who find SFO to be inconveniently distant from their homes.

SJC is situated as a "downtown airport". Its relatively convenient location for residents and visitors near downtown San Jose has also led to some drawbacks. It became surrounded by the city and had little room for expansion. The proximity to downtown has also led to restrictions on heights of buildings in downtown San Jose by safety margins set in FAA regulations.[6][7][8]



The beginnings and expansion

In 1939, Ernie Renzel, a wholesale grocer and future mayor of San Jose, led a group that negotiated an option to purchase 483 acres (1.95 km2) of the Stockton Ranch from the Crocker family, to be the site of San Jose's airport. Renzel led the effort to pass a bond measure to pay for the land in 1940. In 1945, test pilot James Nissen leased about 16 acres (65,000 m2) of this land to build a runway, hangar and office building for a flight school. When the city of San Jose decided to develop a municipal airport, Nissen sold his share of the aviation business and became San Jose's first airport manager. Both Renzel and Nissen were instrumental in the development of San Jose Municipal Airport over the next few decades, culminating with the opening of what is now Terminal C in 1965.[9][10]

In the early 1980s San Jose International Airport was one of the first U.S airports to participate in the noise regulation program enacted by the U.S. Congress for delineation of airport noise contours and developing a pilot study of residential sound insulation. This program succeeded in its objective of demonstrating that residences in the airport vicinity could be retrofitted in a cost-effective manner to reduce interior sound levels from aircraft noise substantially.[11]

American Airlines opened a hub at San Jose in 1988, using slots it obtained in the buyout of Air California in 1986. Reno Air, a startup based in Reno, Nevada, took over many of American's gates until it was bought out by American in 1998.

In 1990, San Jose International Airport greatly expanded with the opening of Terminal A. Plans at the time called for a Terminal B to be eventually built between Terminals A and C.

In November 2001, the airport was renamed after Norman Yoshio Mineta, who is a native of San Jose, its former mayor and congressman, former United States Secretary of Commerce and former United States Secretary of Transportation. In December 2003, the airfield was named after former mayor Ernie Renzel.[12]


Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 aircraft parked at Terminal A with parking structure behind

After the dot-com bubble burst, the city lost several flights because of a decrease in demand. Air Canada discontinued its flights to Toronto and Ottawa, Canada, and American Airlines stopped its nonstop flights to Taipei, Taiwan; Vancouver, Canada; and Paris, France. American also dropped its focus city service to Miami, St. Louis, Seattle, Portland, Denver, and Phoenix; the airline's flights to Southern California were downgraded to American Eagle regional flights.

Dramatic reduction at SJC continued throughout 2004. Alaska Airlines halted its San Jose–Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas seasonal routes, Horizon Air discontinued its twice daily San Jose-Tucson service. and American Airlines discontinued its San Jose–San Luis Obispo and San Jose–Boston Logan links. Mexicana also discontinued its daily flights to Mexico City. In October, 2006, American Airlines discontinued the San Jose–Tokyo-Narita route, which was San Jose's last remaining link with an international overseas destination.

In April 2004, the city government, in its plan to revive the local economy, called for a restored international flight to Taipei and new international routes from San Jose to the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, China, Vietnam via Taiwan, and India.

SJC suffered with many mid-tier airports during the 2008 rise in oil prices as airlines reduced marginal services to improve profitability. SJC lost much of its transcontinental U.S. service in the fall with Continental ending Newark flights, JetBlue ceasing Boston service, and United ending longtime service to its Chicago-O'Hare and Washington-Dulles hubs.[1]

Recent News

In the summer of 2009, American Airlines ceased service to Austin, Texas. However, Alaska Airlines announced afterward it would begin new routes to Austin from SJC and would upgrade service to Portland, Oregon, which was run by regional subsidiary Horizon Air, to commercial jet service which began on September 2, 2009. JetBlue Airways has recently announced that it will resume San Jose/Boston routes starting May 13, 2010, although it would discontinue service to Long Beach effective the same date. In late 2009, Alaska Airlines has inaugurated new nonstop service between two new Hawaiian destinations, Kahului, and Kona, in March 2010, and added flights to Spokane, Washington on its regional subsidiary Horizon Air. Alaska now operates most of its flights out of the Bay Area from San Jose.

Despite the addition of destinations by Alaska Airlines and JetBlue Airways, SJC had lost 22% of its seat capacity since the recession began.[2]

In March 2010, Frontier Airlines announced it was pulling out of San Jose. The city council of San Jose met and discussed with airport officials on March 8, 2010, over the airport's future and how it will adapt to compete with other airports. The discussion also involved suggestions of ways to stem SJC's recent losses as of the fourth quarter of 2009 in revenue and passengers. This, however, is before the completion of Terminal B, which city and airport officials hope will solve the airport's financial problems.

SJC airport diagram (FAA), not including Terminal B

Expansion plan

In August 2004, the city broke ground on North Concourse, the first phase in a three-phase, nine-year expansion plan. The master plan, designed by Gensler and The Steinberg Group, called for a single consolidated terminal that contains 40 gates (eight more than present), an international concourse, and expanded security areas. The terminal would be named after James Nissen. The sail-shaped facade would greet up to 17.6 million passengers a year. A people mover system would link the new terminal with VTA light rail and the planned BART station adjacent to the current Santa Clara Caltrain station. Cargo facilities would be moved to the east side of the airport. A long term parking garage would be constructed at the current location of the rental car operations. A new short term parking structure would also be constructed at the site of current Terminal C short term parking lot.

On November 16, 2005, a scaled-back airport improvement plan was approved and announced. The new two-phase plan called for a North Concourse, which is expected to be completed in 2010, and a simplified Terminal B, rather than the initially proposed James Nissen Central Terminal, to replace the aging Terminal C. In addition, Terminal A will be expanded for additional check-in counters, security checkpoints, and drop-off/pick-up curbside space. The new plan is projected to cost $1.3 billion, less than half of the original plan's cost of $3 billion.

SJC aerial photo of Terminals A and B

The first phase of the completion plan which involves construction of Terminal B and the North Concourse, as well as improvements to Terminal A and CONRAC, is scheduled to be completed on time and will be opened officially to the public in June of 2010. The North Concourse and renovated Terminal A have been either opened or partially opened for service since August 2009.

Passenger Satisfaction Survey Results

An extensive 2010 "North America Airport Satisfaction Study"[13] released February 18, 2010 in Westlake Village, CA by J.D. Power and Associates revealed that San Jose Airport has the lowest passenger satisfaction rating of any comparable small airport in the United States. As reported by Grace Kiser in The Huffington Post on March 3, 2010: "San Jose International, which scored 645 [out of a possible 1000] in the satisfaction index, ranked worst in the list of small airports. The airport scored two out of five in each of the six categories: accessibility, baggage claim, check-in, terminal facilities, security check and food and retail services."[14]

Public Art

SJC's new consolidated parking and rental facility, CONRAC, will be fitted with new public art featuring hands of people in Silicon Valley. The art will go on the outside of the facility and can be seen from more than one mile away. Artist Christian Moeller designed the new "Hands" mural.[15]

Facilities and aircraft

A plane on final approach to runway 30R.

Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport covers an area of 1,050 acres (420 ha) at an elevation of 62 feet (19 m) above mean sea level. It has three runways: 12L/30R and 12R/30L each have a 11,000 by 150 feet (3,353 m × 46 m) concrete surface and 11/29 has a 4,599 by 100 feet (1,402 m × 30 m) asphalt surface.[2]

For the 12-month period ending December 31, 2006, the airport had 213,107 aircraft operations, an average of 583 per day: 59% scheduled commercial, 14% air taxi, 27% general aviation and <1% military. At that time there were 176 aircraft based at this airport: 50% single-engine, 6% multi-engine, 38% jet, and 6% helicopter.[2]

San Jose State University operates a flight-simulator facility for its Aviation program in buildings at the southeast corner of the airport.


There are currently three terminals at the airport. Terminal C, the original terminal, was built in 1965 and Terminal A was built in 1990. Both terminals are relatively small in comparison to the number of people that flow through them, which can result in crowds and long lines during peak traveling times. Terminal B, which will replace Terminal C, is scheduled to open entirely for service in the summer of 2010. In August 2009, the gates at the airport were renumbered, with gate A16B at the end of Terminal A becoming Gate 1 and Gate A1A at the other end becoming Gate 16.

Walkway that connects parking garage (left) to Terminal A proper (right).
Gate and waiting area in Terminal A

Terminal A

Terminal A has 16 gates:1-16.[16] Terminal A was originally built in 1990 and underwent extensive renovation during 2008 and 2009. On May 13, 2009, new larger ground-level ticketing counters opened at Terminal A. The counters have 60 percent more waiting space than the old ones, and allows for longer curb-parking space. The upstairs ticketing counters have been converted into new security checkpoints and concessions which opened in November 2009, completing renovation of the terminal. The renovations and expansion of Terminal A was designed by Curtis W. Fentress, FAIA, RIBA of Fentress Architects.

The terminal has an international arrivals building, which contains Gates 15 and 16. All international flights (all of which depart at Terminal A) at the airport must clear customs from this building in order to proceed to their gates. The gates used in this building are also used for arrivals of Mexicana Airlines flights.

Terminal A also has an Admirals Club across from Gate 8 for American Airlines passengers.

The departure hall in the newly completed departure area in Terminal B in August 2009.

Terminal B

The new Terminal B was designed by Fentress Architects. Construction management is being provided by Hensel Phelps Construction Co. The terminal will house two concourses and will replace Terminal C, the original terminal of the airport. The terminal will open on June 30, 2010. Afterward, the old terminal will be demolished to make room for construction of the South Concourse.

North Concourse

After its completion in 2010, the North Concourse will have 12 gates: 17-28.

The first six gates of the new concourse were opened to the public on July 15, 2009. Southwest Airlines will operate within these gates until the terminal has finished construction, with passengers still using Terminal A ticketing, security, and baggage claim. Southwest Airlines will be the primary tenant once the terminal opens along with Alaska Airlines, Horizon Air, and Delta Air Lines.[17]

South Concourse

The South Concourse will be built once traffic levels recover and reach a certain level determined by the City of San Jose to justify the expansion. Speculation is that the concourse construction will start in 2011 and that the concourse will be opened in either 2014 or 2015.

Terminal C

Terminal C with its dark windows in the foreground, with the new parking structure behind it in early 2010

Terminal C has 14 gates: C1–C14. [18]

This terminal was built in 1965. Instead of using jetways (elevated tunnels that connect planes to the terminal), Terminal C mostly uses airstairs, but most airlines, including Alaska Airlines[19] and SkyWest Airlines, use new turboway ramps. Terminal C will be torn down for construction of the South Concourse in 2010, once Terminal B is opened. In preparation for construction of Terminal B, the north end of Terminal C, previously home to gates C14–C16 and home to Alaska Airlines, Horizon Air, and Frontier Airlines, was closed for demolition in December 2007. The remaining portion of the terminal was reconfigured, including the addition of a new, larger consolidated security checkpoint. In February 2008, the north end of Terminal C was torn down to start the new construction of Terminal B.[20]

In December 2009, United Airlines, Continental Airlines, and JetBlue Airways moved to new or reconstructed gates in Terminal A, as the area within Terminal C containing the three airlines' gates will be demolished. Frontier Airlines will move to Terminal A permanently in March of 2010. Other airlines currently operating within Terminal C will remain in the terminal until Terminal B and the North Concourse open completely in June 2010.

The Terminal C baggage claim was closed for demolition on February 2, 2010. This will allow completion of the airport's new roadways. All airlines operating in Terminal C currently are currently using the completed Terminal B baggage claim until June 30, 2010, when Terminal B will officially open.

Airlines and Destinations

Commercial Aviation

Airlines Destinations Terminal
Alaska Airlines Austin, Kahului, Kona, Portland (OR), Seattle/Tacoma C
American Airlines Chicago-O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth A
American Eagle Los Angeles A
Continental Airlines Houston-Intercontinental A
Delta Air Lines Atlanta, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Salt Lake City [seasonal] C
Delta Connection operated by SkyWest Airlines Salt Lake City C
Frontier Airlines Denver [ends May 14][21] C
Frontier Airlines operated by Republic Airlines Denver [ends May 14][21] C
Hawaiian Airlines Honolulu A
Horizon Air Boise, Mammoth Lakes [seasonal], Portland (OR), Sacramento, Spokane [begins March 26] C
JetBlue Airways Boston [begins May 13][22], New York–JFK A
Mexicana Guadalajara, Morelia A
Southwest Airlines Burbank, Chicago-Midway, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Ontario (CA), Orange County, Phoenix, Portland (OR), Reno/Tahoe, San Diego, Seattle/Tacoma A
United Airlines Denver A
United Express operated by
SkyWest Airlines
Denver, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara [ends June 8] A
US Airways Phoenix C


Accidents and Incidents Involving SJC

  • February 17, 1981 - Air California (AirCal) Flight 336 (a Boeing 737-200), flying from San Jose, California to John Wayne Airport, crashed upon initiating a go around. The crew was cleared for a visual approach to Runway 19R while the controller had cleared another flight to take-off from 19R. Upon realizing the mistake, the controller ordered Air California 336 to go-around and the other aircraft to abort its take-off, which it did. The Captain of the landing Air California aircraft delayed the go-around then selected the gear up before a positive rate of climb was achieved. The 737 with the gear up skidded down the runway before coming to rest. A fire started, 4 passengers sustained minor injuries, 91 other passengers and 5 crew exited without incident. The aircraft N468AC was damaged beyond repair and was written off.
  • April 7, 1994 - FedEx Flight 705, was flying from Memphis International Airport to San Jose International Airport. The airplane identified as N306FE, a McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30 experienced an attempted hijacking by a soon to be terminated employee. Auburn Calloway, the hijacker, planned to use the aircraft for a kamikaze attack on FedEx Corporation Headquarters in Memphis, Tennessee. The crew of Flight 705 were able to fight off Calloway and land the plane safely. This incident was featured on the National Geographic television show, Mayday (Air Crash Investigation or Air Emergency). The episode (Season 3, Episode 4) was titled "Fight for Your Life (Suicide Attack)"

General aviation

Private and corporate aircraft are based on the opposite side of the runway from Terminals A and C, on Coleman Avenue.

  • ACM Aviation
  • Atlantic Aviation (formerly San Jose Jet Center)
  • AvBase Inc

Ground transportation

The airport's web site lists transportation options at SJC including taxis, limousines, rental cars, shuttles and public transportation, which are located on or accessible from the airport.

Public transit connections

The free VTA Route 10 Airport Flyer connects the airport to the Santa Clara Station for Caltrain and Altamont Commuter Express commuter rail services as well as numerous local buses; and to the Metro/Airport Light Rail Station for VTA's light rail service.

See also


  1. ^ a b Norman Y. Mineta San José International Airport, official web site
  2. ^ a b c d FAA Airport Master Record for SJC (Form 5010 PDF), effective 2008-04-10
  3. ^ FAA Passenger Boarding Data for 2006, as published November 26, 2007.
  4. ^ City of San José, official web site
  5. ^ "San Jose International Airport". Geographic Names Information System. U.S. Geological Survey. Retrieved 2009-05-03. 
  6. ^ Hamm, Andrew (2006-02-24). "San Jose studying building heights vs. airport flights issue". San Jose Business Journal. Retrieved 2008-07-10. 
  7. ^ "Zoning Ordinance: Downtown Height Study". City of San Jose. 2007-01-29. Retrieved 2008-07-10. 
  8. ^ Lohse, Deborah (2007-01-30). "San Jose skyline vs. flight path". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved 2008-07-10. 
  9. ^ Proposed Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport Public Art Master Plan, Rome Group and City of San Jose Office of Cultural Affairs, November 16, 2004.
  10. ^ Airport Report, Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport, 2(8), January 2004
  11. ^ C. Michael Hogan and Ballard George, Design of Acoustical Insulation for Existing Residences in the Vicinity of San Jose Municipal Airport, Issues in Transportation Related Environmental Quality, Transportation Research Board, National Research Council, Transportation Research Record 1033, Washington, D.C. (1985)
  12. ^ Airport Report, Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport, 4(3), August 2005
  13. ^ *Tews, John and Perlman, Jeff. "Press Release", J.D. Power and Associates, February 18, 2010.
  14. ^ *Kiser, Grace. "The WORST Airports In America: J.D. Power", The Huffington Post, March 2, 2010.
  15. ^ "Installation of Airport’s “Hands” Public Art Starts". 2009-06-23. Retrieved 2009-07-09. 
  16. ^ "Airport Construction Update: July 28, 2009". 2009-08-01. Retrieved 2009-08-18. 
  17. ^ "Airport Update". 
  18. ^ Inside Terminal C
  19. ^ Service improvement benefits Alaska passengers. Airport Report. Vol. 3, No. 1. Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport. June 2004.
  20. ^ Airport Construction Update 12/14/07
  21. ^ a b Noguchi, Sharon (2010-02-19). "Frontier Airlines pulls out of San Jose". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved 2010-02-20. 
  22. ^

External links


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