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Oakland Airport defends proposed name change, says leaders are in support

Proposed Oakland International Airport name change draws flak
Proposed Oakland International Airport name change draws flak 03:51

OAKLAND – As Oakland International Airport faces criticism over a proposal to add "San Francisco Bay" to its name, airport officials are defending the plan, saying that local leaders are in support.

The Port of Oakland, which operates the airport, released a statement Tuesday pushing back on critics, which include San Francisco International Airport.

"The name modification will use the main geographic feature of our region to identify its location, the San Francisco Bay," said Craig Simon, the airport's interim aviation director. "This is not about the City and County of San Francisco, or San Mateo County, but about our region and creating jobs in Oakland and throughout the East Bay. No one owns the title to the San Francisco Bay."

Simon went on to say, "Modifying our name will help us compete for new destinations, which will benefit all travelers. There's no confusion; OAK has been located on the San Francisco Bay since 1927."

In its statement, the airport also included statements from local leaders, tourism officials, business organizations and airline representatives supporting the change, including Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao.

"Considering a name modification to highlight our location within the vibrant San Francisco Bay Area could offer several benefits," Thao said. "Notably, it could support the airport's efforts to secure more direct flights to additional destinations, enhancing convenience for travelers and potentially boosting tourism in Oakland. This adjustment isn't just about signage—it's about inviting travelers to discover all that Oakland and the region have to offer."   

Councilmember Treva Reid, whose district covers the airport, said she is in support of the renaming. "The Oakland Airport is a billion-dollar regional asset to protect, invest in, and uplift. As the city prioritizes deepening investments and resources in the Hegenberger/Airport Area Corridor, we must leverage the power of the expanded name to drive more tourism through this regional gateway to strengthen our local economy," Reid said.

Peter Gamez, the CEO of Visit Oakland, said the change would increase internet search visibility for OAK, which would bring more visitors to the East Bay. "This means more people will experience the beauty of Oakland, creating positive economic impact as they stay in our hotels and support our local businesses and attractions."

On Friday, the Port of Oakland announced it was considering a plan to change the official name from "Metropolitan Oakland International Airport" to "San Francisco Bay International Airport". In its announcement, the airport cited a lack of "geographic awareness" among visitors and losing routes over the last 15 years as a reason for changing the name.

Following the announcement, officials at SFO issued a statement saying they had "serious concerns". Airport director Ivar Satero said in a prepared statement that SFO has used the name "San Francisco Airport" or "San Francisco International Airport" since 1927 and there is the "potential for customer confusion and disservice" resulting from the renaming.

If approved, the airport code OAK and its visual brand would not change, officials said.

Port commissioners are expected to consider the name change at a meeting on April 11.

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