Bay Area/ Oakland/ Transportation & Infrastructure
AI Assisted Icon
Published on April 03, 2024
East Bay Leaders Rally Behind Oakland Airport Name Change to Broaden AppealSource: Alfred Twu, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

East Bay's travel and business leaders are aboard the name-change train for Oakland's airport. Among those backing the switch to "San Francisco Bay Oakland International Airport," are influential groups from Oakland, Walnut Creek, the Tri-Valley, and Berkeley, according to a statement obtained by the Port of Oakland. This move is poised to put the airport more firmly on the map for travelers punching their destinations into booking platforms and GPS systems.

The rebrand aims to leverage the "San Francisco Bay" moniker, a globally recognized landmark, to showcase the airport's central locale better. Craig Simon, OAK's Interim Aviation Director, underscored the pragmatic motives, "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 said, pointing out that OAK is the closest airport to a majority of the Bay Area's residents and home to key employers and research facilities.

The spruced-up name will also enhance the airport's digital footprint, boosting its visibility in online searches, noted Peter Gamez, CEO of Visit Oakland. Meanwhile, Tracy Farhad, CEO of Visit Tri-Valley, champions the name change for improving travel convenience for the over 2 million yearly visitors to cities like Livermore and Dublin. “This is a smart move for the airport, and we support it,” Farhad told the Port of Oakland.

Executives like Nicole Hankton of Visit Walnut Creek see the renaming as a fix to a prevailing problem: out-of-state visitors not associating OAK with Walnut Creek's proximity to San Francisco Bay, which results in travelers often overlooking the airport. “As a result, we observe OAK could be overlooked as the closest airport, unless there is an indication of "San Francisco Bay Area" to align with our messaging about us being a San Francisco Bay Area destination,” Hankton explained. Berkeley's CEO of Visit Berkeley, Barbara Hillman, echoed these statements, highlighting Berkeley's global recognition due to the University and national research labs and the benefits to air travel planning that the proposed airport name alignment would bring.

The Port Commissioners have their plates full with this proposal and will consider the airport's name modification at their April 11 Port Board meeting. Should the change get the green light, the airport officials are primed to move forward with formalities to make the San Francisco Bay Oakland International Airport a reality for travelers worldwide.