ROUTES: Oakland airport rail connection to enable flights

Las Vegas
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When a new rail connection opens at Oakland International airport in September 2014, the airport's ties to San Francisco will be closer than ever.

Deborah Ale Flint, director of aviation for the Port of Oakland, which operates the airport, calls the rail line an “enabler” of connections to San Francisco as well as downtown Oakland and other areas of the Bay Area on the region’s BART rail system.

The $484 million Oakland Airport Connector will connect the airport’s passenger terminals to the Coliseum/Oakland Airport BART station, which is 20min from San Francisco and 10min from central Oakland. A BART extension to the Silicon Valley is under construction and scheduled to open in 2018.

The rail connection opens not a moment too late. Norwegian plans to begin flights between Oakland and both Oslo and Stockholm – further solidifying Oakland’s position as an alternative to nearby San Francisco International for international passengers – on the Boeing 787 in May 2014.

The flights are the airport’s first nonstops to Europe in more than a decade.

A nonstop to the UK is at the top of Oakland’s international wish list for the future, says Flint.

Domestically the airport hopes to attract additional frequencies to Chicago, she says. Southwest Airlines flies to Chicago Midway International but the airport lacks a nonstop to Chicago O’Hare International – a major hub for both American Airlines and United Airlines.

Boardings at Oakland were down 2.5% to 2.79 million during the first eight months of the year, airport statistics show. This comes after they rose more than 8% to 5.02 million in 2012.