MIAMI — Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC), at the heart of Silicon Valley in California, is experiencing rapid growth. In the first quarter of 2018, SJC’s passenger traffic increased by 18.5% when compared to the same three-month period the previous year.
In fact, since 2013, SJC had a 63% increase in passenger growth. Over the last three years, the airport added one million or more passenger each year and it is on track for another million passengers in 2019.
Passenger projection for 2018 and 2019 indicated that the airport’s existing 30 gates could not accommodate the forecasted growth.
As a result, in June 2018, the San Jose City Council approved the $56 million Interim Gates Facilities project. Hensel Phelps construction and Fentress Architects rapidly designed and built this facility in record time.
Working on a compressed 18-month schedule, SJC opened five new gates just one year later, in time for the busy summer travel season.
Located at the southern end of Terminal B, the Interim Gates Facility will have six new gates. Five gates numbered 31 to 35, opened for operations on June 14th to Southwest Airlines, while Gate 36 is still under construction and will open in November.
Southwest Airlines is SJC’s largest carrier. The airline started service to SJC in 1993 with 11 departures to just two cities: Burbank and Las Vegas.
Today, Southwest has up to 118 daily departures to 31 cities, including Honolulu and Kahului in Hawaii and Nashville, the latest destination. Southwest will co-locate its operations by occupying 14 contiguous gates on the south side of Terminal B, including the new gates.
Andrew Watterson, Southwest Airlines Executive Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer thanked SJC and the City of San Jose for having a “low cost, efficient expansion (plan) that stays one step ahead, that allows for growth and competition…(which) benefits people of San Jose.”
Indeed, all airlines serving SJC will benefit, because this facility will increase overall capacity, meet demand, and reduce delays caused by over-scheduled gates. To capture growing demand driven by the high-tech sector, airlines are stepping up their game at SJC. It is not a coincidence that lines intersect back to Southwest.
Delta Air Lines earlier this month announced three “focus cities” – Austin, Nashville, and SJC – all three with a dominate Southwest presence.
In addition, Alaska Airlines, with its acquisition of Virgin America, has significantly increased service within California and SJC – key Southwest markets. For the short term at least, flyers can stand to benefit from all of this competition.
Connected to the Terminal B gates at the north end, the Interim Gates Facility is located at ground level, which creates an interesting “uphill” boarding via jet bridges.
This facility currently has just one restaurant and one newsstand kiosk; additional concessions will open with Gate 36 in the fall. Other amenities include now-expected seats with power outlets, water bottle filling stations, and most importantly, restrooms.
SJC Director of Aviation John Aitken said the Interim Gates Facility “bridges the gap between today and our long term future.”
This facility is expected to operate for five to seven years while Terminal B Phase 2 Expansion is being planned and built. The design of the Interim Gates Facility allows it to remain 100% operational during Terminal B expansion construction.