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Norman Y. Mineta San José International Airport is a city-owned public-use airport serving the city of San Josémarker in Santa Clara County, Californiamarker, United States. It is located two nautical miles (4 km) northwest of Downtown San Josemarker, near the intersections of three major freeways, U.S. Route 101, Interstate 880, and State Route 87.


Despite San Jose's position as the most populous city in the San Francisco Bay Areamarker, 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 Airportmarker (SFO), and fewer passengers than Oakland International Airportmarker (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.


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 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 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.

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.

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, Nevadamarker, took over many of American's gates until it was bought out by American in 1998. American never re-established its hub; however, it is still the airport's second busiest scheduled airline after Southwest Airlines.

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.


After the dot-com bubble burst, the city lost several flights because of a decrease in demand. Air Canada discontinued its flights to Torontomarker and Ottawamarker, Canada, and American Airlines stopped its nonstop flights to Taipeimarker, Taiwanmarker; Vancouvermarker, Canada; and Paris, France. American also dropped its focus city service to Miamimarker, St. Louismarker, Seattlemarker, Portlandmarker, Denvermarker, and Phoenixmarker; 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 Vallartamarker and Cabo San Lucasmarker seasonal routes, Horizon Air discontinued its twice daily San Jose-Tucsonmarker service. and American Airlines discontinued its San Jose–San Luis Obispomarker and San Jose–Boston Logan links. In October, 2006, American Airlines discontinued the San Jose–Tokyo-Naritamarker 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 Kongmarker, China, Vietnammarker 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.[22914]In the summer of 2009, American Airlines ceased service to Austin, Texasmarker. However, Alaska Airlines soon announced it would begin new routes to Austinmarker from SJC and would upgrade service to Portland, Oregonmarker, which was run by regional subsidiary Horizon Air, to commercial jet service beginning September 2, 2009.

Nonetheless, overall, SJC had lost 22% of its seat capacity since the recession began.[22915]

SJC airport diagram (FAA)

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 stationmarker. 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.

Public Art

SJC's new consolidated parking and rental facility, CONRAC, will be fitted with new public art featuring hands of people in Silicon Valleymarker. 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.

Facilities and aircraft

Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport covers an area of at an elevation of above mean sea level. It has three runways: 12L/30R and 12R/30L each have a concrete surface and 11/29 has a asphalt surface.

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.

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

Terminals, airlines and destinations

There are two 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. Under the current airport expansion plan, Terminal A will be expanded, and Terminal C will be torn down and replaced by a new Terminal B. Currently, the north end of Terminal C has already been demolished. 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.

Gate and waiting area in Terminal A

Terminal A

Terminal A has 16 gates:1-16.On 13 May 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 opened on November 2009.

Here is a list of airlines which will move to Terminal A by the end of 2009 as the demolition of Terminal C begins in 2010.

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. With the completion of the main terminal in 2010, US Airways and Frontier Airlines which operate in Terminal C will be moved to Terminal A as the old terminal will be demolished to make room for 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 Airlinesmarker 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.

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.

Terminal C

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 and SkyWest Airlines, use new turboway ramps. Terminal C will be torn down and replaced by a new Terminal B in 2010. 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, the north end of Terminal C was torn down to start the new construction of Terminal B.

It is confirmed that United Airlines, Continental Airlines, and JetBlue Airways will all move to Terminal A in late 2009, as the area within Terminal C containing the three airlines' gates will be demolished. The other airlines currently operating within Terminal C will remain in the terminal until Terminal B and the North Concourse open completely in June 2010, where afterward Terminal C will be entirely demolished to start work on new roadways and construction of the South Concourse of Terminal B.

Terminal C has 14 gates: C1–C14


Accidents and Incidents Involving SJC

General aviation

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

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 Stationmarker for Caltrain and Altamont Commuter Express commuter rail services as well as numerous local buses; and to the Metro/Airport Light Rail Stationmarker for VTA's light rail service.

See also


  1. City of San José, official web site
  2. 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.
  3. Airport Report, Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport, 2(8), January 2004
  4. 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)
  5. Airport Report, Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport, 4(3), August 2005
  6. Service improvement benefits Alaska passengers. Airport Report. Vol. 3, No. 1. Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport. June 2004.
  7. Airport Construction Update 12/14/07
  8. Inside Terminal C

External links

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