Bay Area business travelers are seeing new flights at all three major airports in the region as passenger traffic keeps increasing, but one of them is adding new capacity at a faster rate than any airport in the country. That airport is Mineta San Jose International (SJC), where total passenger traffic last year soared above the 10 million mark to 10.8 million, a gain of more than 10 percent over the previous year. For international passengers, the annual increase was more than 68 percent over 2015 as more carriers added transatlantic and transpacific service from SJC.
The number of airline seats flying in and out of SJC during March was up almost 20 percent over the same month a year ago. The average increase for U.S. airports was under 5 percent.
The capacity boom at Mineta San Jose is continuing this month with new transcontinental service – in fact, the same route — from two airlines. March 9 was the launch date for United’s new daily non-stops to its Newark Liberty hub, and three days later, Alaska Airlines inaugurated its own daily flights to EWR. United also started up twice-daily service to its big hub at Chicago O’Hare.
With the tremendous growth in the nation’s technology sector, Mineta San Jose is positioning itself as the gateway airport for Silicon Valley business travelers, since the companies that collective name refers to are mostly just a few miles up the Highway 101 from SJC in towns like Sunnyvale, Mountain View and Palo Alto. It’s closer not only in highway miles, but especially in drive time thanks to its distance from the congested San Francisco peninsula (and its crowded airport).
Those new transcons from United and Alaska are just a few of the new services coming to SJC in late winter and spring. In mid-March, Alaska added California Corridor service between Mineta San Jose and the Los Angeles area’s uncrowded Hollywood-Burbank Airport, with three daily roundtrips. And in May, SJC will welcome seasonal daily service from American Airlines to its Charlotte, N.C. hub, as well as a third daily roundtrip to Atlanta being added to Delta’s schedule. On June 4, Southwest is due to begin daily roundtrips from Mineta San Jose to Reno.
And later this year, Alaska Airlines will begin new daily E175 service from SJC to Austin and Tucson (both starting August 28), and four flights a day to Los Angeles International (beginning September 20).
More international flights are coming as well. Aeromexico is set to start flying once a day from SJC to its Guadalajara hub on July 1. And on May 2, Air Canada will add a third daily frequency to its SJC-Vancouver route. That’s all in addition to the big bump in international options for business travelers that came to SJC last year, including Air China’s non-stops to Shanghai, British Airways’ flights to London Heathrow, and Lufthansa’s to Frankfurt.