Dwelling on what San Diego’s airport allegedly lacks is glass-half-empty thinking. More importantly, it’s inaccurate.

San Diego’s airport is an international airport. It offers nonstop service to the U.K., Japan, Mexico and Canada.

We’re pursuing nonstop service to Central or South America. And we are on the lookout for additional nonstop service to Europe and Asia.

It’s not a matter of “build it and they will come” in the air service business. Instead, we have to see a clear demand and then go about meeting it. The most important thing we can do is fill our current international nonstop flights.

The grumbles about our airport’s limitations are old. There are a few things in the works and already in place to quiet those complaints. Chief among these is Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner, a perfect aircraft that Japan Airlines now uses to connect San Diego and Tokyo nonstop. Future versions of that aircraft will be able to fly even further when fully loaded. Nonstop service to China is indeed a possibility.

We’ve also addressed concerns about our airport’s capacity. Airlines are using larger aircraft, so we have fewer small airplanes flying to LAX, for example. More people in fewer airplanes equals greater capacity. We launched two major expansion programs: The Green Build opened 10 new gates in 2013 and the Airport Development Plan is determining how to add another 10 gates. Both programs include land and air improvements in efficiency, and let the airport accommodate more demand right where it is.

And let’s talk about where it is. With regard to moving the airport to Miramar, the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority placed that on the ballot in 2006, and county voters rejected it. When voters said no, it was clear we had no choice but to do all we could with the current location. That’s what the Airport Authority has been doing.

San Diego’s Convention Center is fully booked. San Diego’s life science and advanced technology industries are thriving. San Diego’s international footprint is growing every day.

Let’s keep one thing in mind: There’s “nice to have” and there’s “need to have.” It would be nice to have more runways, no curfew and more international nonstop service. But in the real world, we continue to provide what the region needs to have in air service.

Jim Desmond is a board member of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority. Desmond’s note has been edited for style and clarity. See anything in there we should fact check? Tell us what to check out here.

Catherine Green

Catherine Green was formerly the deputy editor at Voice of San Diego. She handled daily operations while helping to plan new long-term projects.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.