Bay Area/ Oakland/ Transportation & Infrastructure
AI Assisted Icon
Published on August 08, 2023
Is Oakland International Airport Facing an Identity Crisis? Name Change Controversy Takes OffVOO QQQ on Unsplash

In an effort to increase traveler and airline interest, the Port of Oakland, which operates Oakland International Airport, recently sent out a survey to 700 registered Oakland voters about the possibility of changing the airport's name, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The survey asked respondents how comfortable they would be with a name change that reflects the airport's service area, specifically the San Francisco East Bay Region, as part of an initiative to attract more flights and destinations.

While the Port of Oakland aims to increase awareness of Oakland International Airport's location and proximity to tourist attractions in the Bay Area, some local residents seem to be against the idea of a name change. Concerns have been raised on social media platforms like X and Reddit, fearing the potential loss of the "Oakland" identity in the airport's name. However, officials from the Port of Oakland clarified that Oakland would not be removed from the airport's name, and its code "OAK" would also remain intact.

The primary reason behind the rebranding proposal is a perceived lack of interest from inbound travelers flying into Oakland, despite local demand for more direct flights and alternative airlines. The Port of Oakland found through market research that both domestic and international travelers were often unfamiliar with Oakland and its relation to the San Francisco Bay Area. This lack of knowledge has led to loss of service to the airport, particularly long-haul routes to popular destinations in the East Coast and Europe, and has made it difficult for the airport to attract new services, as reported by CBS News San Francisco.

Apart from the proposed name change, the airport is considering other ways to address this issue, including a rebrand campaign to add a geographic identifier to its name. The port believes that this would help inbound passengers understand the airport's proximity to the San Francisco Bay Area and potentially increase the likelihood of them booking travel through Oakland. Any decision regarding the name change, however, must be approved by the Oakland Board of Port Commissioners, and the whole rebranding process is expected to take around a year to complete.

While the ongoing discussions around the name change might be raising eyebrows among locals who are concerned about preserving the identity of Oakland, it is worth noting that Oakland International Airport has seen a significant recovery in passenger traffic post-pandemic. The airport handled more than 11 million passengers in 2022, almost 37% more than the previous year.

Oakland-Transportation & Infrastructure