Mineta – the airport – raises hopes, lowers rents

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It just spent about a billion dollars to be a bigger better airport, but San Jose‘s Norman Y. Mineta International Airport is going to have to turn to city funds to keep its airlines. The airport, sometimes called ‘Mineta,’ sometimes ‘San Jose’ but never just plain ‘Norm,’ will lower rents in an effort to keep airline service after the city council voted to let it use a fund of about $2.2 million to reduce the Cost Per Enplaned passenger to $8.61 in this fiscal year (ending in June.) The cost, a key airport metric, had been $9.02, a figure that was inflated by the airport’s ambitious $1.3-billion modernization and expansion program, said airport spokesman David Vossbrink. Rents will go from just over $206 a square foot to just over $193 a square foot. The cost seems high, but Southwest, the largest carrier, with a 45% markets share, is okay with it because it likes the airport’s expansion, say Vossbrink. Southwest usually pays about $5 to get a flyer on board at its other airports.


Mineta’s not alone, as both SFO and Oakland have suffered
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cuts, and the airport has some hopes for intercontinental service, though, its air service development guru, Ed Nelson, tells us. The Narita flight was jam-packed for its life of more than 15 years, he noted. And not only is Mineta within 20 miles of most of Silicon Valley’s hi-tech headquarters, but it also has a very large ethnic population of Asian-Americans and Indian-Americas. But Mineta, or San Jose, suffers from the same syndrome that makes carriers choose Heathrow when they start flights to England: it’s not the brand-name airport, even though it may be more convenient, etc. In fact, San Jose lost out on Kingfisher’s ambitious India-US expansion, and the carrier will go to San Francisco (SFO) starting in November. You can get a sense of the three airports’ relationship from the illustration above, which is not modern art but an FAA representation of Bay Area air traffic.

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