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Mineta San Jose International Airport


Mineta San Jose International Airport

For the airport in San José, Costa Rica, see Juan Santamaría International Airport. For the airport in San José del Cabo, Mexico, see Los Cabos International Airport.

Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport
Airport type Public
Owner City of San Jose
Serves San Jose, California
Location San Jose, California, USA
Elevation AMSL 62 ft / 19 m
Coordinates 37°21′46″N 121°55′45″W / 37.36278°N 121.92917°W / 37.36278; -121.92917Coordinates: 37°21′46″N 121°55′45″W / 37.36278°N 121.92917°W / 37.36278; -121.92917

Location within San Jose
Direction Length Surface
ft m
12L/30R 11,000 3,353 Concrete
12R/30L 11,000 3,353 Concrete
11/29 4,599 1,402 Asphalt
Statistics (2011)
Passengers 8,357,384
Aircraft operations 120,966
Cargo (metric tonnes) 39,952
Sources: airport web site,[1] FAA Airport Master Record[2] and FAA Passenger Boarding Data[3]

Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport[1] (IATA: SJCICAO: KSJCFAA LID: SJC) is a city-owned public airport in San Jose, Santa Clara County, California. It is named for San Jose native Norman Yoshio Mineta, Transportation Secretary in the Cabinet of George W. Bush and Commerce Secretary in the Cabinet of Bill Clinton. The name also recognizes Mineta's service as a Councilman for, and Mayor of, San Jose. It is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection international Port of entry.[4] It is two miles northwest of Downtown San Jose[2][5] near the intersections of U.S. Route 101, Interstate 880, and State Route 87. The dominant carrier is Southwest Airlines; Alaska Airlines with its regional subsidiary Horizon Air is second largest. The airport has free Wi-Fi in the entire terminal.

The San Jose City Council has considered renaming the airport San Jose/Silicon Valley Mineta International Airport. The city believes that the new name would help airlines' marketing.


Despite San Jose being the largest city in the Bay Area, SJC is the smallest of the three Bay Area airline airports (8.4 million annual passengers in 2011), with less than a quarter of the passengers of San Francisco International Airport (SFO), and fewer passengers than Oakland International Airport (OAK). Like Oakland airport it attracts Bay Area residents who find SFO too distant from their homes.

SJC is a "downtown airport", unlike SFO and OAK which are on opposite shores of San Francisco Bay. SJC's convenient location near downtown San Jose has drawbacks: it is surrounded by the city and had little room for expansion. The proximity to downtown causes limits on building heights in downtown San Jose, by FAA rules.[6][7][8]

Pre-aviation history

The first honey bees in California were brought to Santa Clara County. In March of 1853, Christopher A. Shelton introduced honey bees at the Rancho Potrero de Santa Clara on the land, which now operates as San Jose International Airport (KSJC / SJC) (Source: HISTORY Channel)

Beginnings and expansion

In 1939 Ernie Renzel, a wholesale grocer and future mayor of San Jose, led a group that negotiated an option to buy 483 acres (1.95 km2) of the Stockton Ranch from the Crocker family, to be the site of San Jose's airport. Renzel led the effort to pass a bond measure to pay for the land in 1940. In 1945 test pilot James Nissen leased about 16 acres (65,000 m2) of this land to build a runway, hangar and office building for a flight school. When the city of San Jose decided to develop a municipal airport, Nissen sold his share of the aviation business and became San Jose's first airport manager. Renzel and Nissen were instrumental in the development of San Jose Municipal Airport over the next few decades, culminating with the 1965 opening of what later became Terminal C.[9][10]

The runway that became 12R/30L was 4,500 feet (1,400 m) until about 1962—Brokaw Rd was the northwest boundary of the airport. In 1964 it was 6,312 feet (1,924 m), in 1965 it was 7787 ft, and a few years later it reached 8900 ft, where it stayed until around 1991. The two runways are now 11,000 feet (3,400 m).

In the early 1980s San Jose International Airport (KSJC / SJC) was one of the first U.S airports to participate in the noise regulation program enacted by the U.S. Congress for delineation of airport noise contours and developing a pilot study of residential sound insulation. This program showed that residences near the airport could be retrofitted cost-effectively to reduce indoor aircraft noise substantially.[11]

In 1990 San Jose International Airport greatly expanded with the opening of Terminal A. (Terminal B between Terminals A and C was planned for someday.)

In November 2001 the airport was renamed after Norman Yoshio Mineta, a native of San Jose, its former mayor and congressman, former United States Secretary of Commerce and former United States Secretary of Transportation. In December 2003 the airfield was named after former mayor Ernie Renzel.[12]

Terminal B North Concourse

In August 2004 the city broke ground on the North Concourse, the first phase in a three-phase, nine-year expansion plan. The plan, designed by Gensler and The Steinberg Group, called for a single consolidated terminal with 40 gates (eight more than present), an international concourse, and expanded security areas. The terminal would be named after James Nissen. The sail-shaped facade would greet up to 17.6 million passengers a year. A people mover system would link the new terminal with VTA light rail and the planned BART station next to the Santa Clara Caltrain station. Cargo facilities would be moved to the east side of the airport. A long term parking garage would be built where the rental car operations are now. A short term parking lot was built on the site of Terminal C.

In November 2005 a scaled-back plan was approved and announced.[13][14] The new two-phase plan called for a simplified Terminal B, rather than the initially proposed James Nissen Central Terminal, with a North Concourse to replace the aging Terminal C. In addition, Terminal A would be expanded for additional check-in counters, security checkpoints, and drop-off/pick-up curbside space. The new plan cost $1.3 billion, less than half of the original plan's cost of $3 billion. The first phase was completed in June 2010, when Terminal B and the North Concourse officially opened for service.[15][16] The second phase, adding a South Concourse to Terminal B, is to be built when demand is sufficient.

Passenger service history

Early days

San Jose's first airline flights were Southwest Airways DC-3s on the multistop run between SFO and LAX, starting in 1948–49. Southwest (later called Pacific) was the only airline until 1966, when PSA started flying Electras nonstop from LAX, with 727s later that year. (SJC's first airline jets were Pacific 727 nonstops to LAX earlier in 1966). In 1968 United Airlines arrived, with 727 nonstops from Denver, Chicago and LAX, and DC-8s from New York Kennedy and Baltimore.


American Airlines opened a hub at San Jose in 1988, using slots it obtained in the buyout of Air California in 1986. Reno Air, a startup based in Reno, Nevada, took over many of American's gates until it was bought out by American in 1998. By summer 2001, American served Paris, Taipei and Tokyo nonstop from San Jose, and had domestic flights to Austin, Boston, Denver, Honolulu, Las Vegas, Maui, Orange County, Portland, Phoenix, San Diego and Seattle, in addition to its hubs in Chicago, Dallas, Miami, Los Angeles, New York and St. Louis.[17]

After the dot-com bubble burst in 2001 the city lost several flights. Air Canada dropped its flights to Toronto and Ottawa, Canada, and American Airlines ended its nonstops to Taipei, Vancouver, and Paris. American also dropped its flights to Miami, St. Louis, Seattle, Portland, Denver, and Phoenix; the airline's flights to Southern California were downgraded to American Eagle regional flights.

Reduction at SJC continued throughout 2004. Alaska Airlines halted its San Jose–Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas seasonal routes, Horizon Air ended its twice daily San Jose-Tucson service. and American Airlines ended its San Jose–San Luis Obispo and San Jose–Boston Logan links.

In October 2005 Hawaiian Airlines began daily nonstops to Honolulu. San Jose was Hawaiian's fifth city in California, along with San Diego, Los Angeles, Sacramento and San Francisco.[18][19] In October 2006 American Airlines ended the San Jose–Tokyo-Narita route, San Jose's last nonstop beyond North America and Hawaii.

SJC suffered with many mid-tier airports during the 2008 rise in oil prices as airlines reduced marginal services. SJC lost much of its transcontinental U.S. service in the fall with


In the summer of 2009 American Airlines ended flights to Austin, Texas. Alaska Airlines announced it would begin new routes to Austin from SJC and would upgrade some service to Portland, Oregon, which was run by regional subsidiary Horizon Air, to jet flights that began on September 2, 2009.

In September 2009 San Jose Airport Management announced the 90-day closure of the general aviation runway 11/29 as part of a reconstruction project. The runway closure was later continued indefinitely, and ultimately runway 11/29 was permanently closed and became part of a new widened taxiway W.

In 2010 service expanded at SJC for the first time in several years. JetBlue Airways resumed San Jose/Boston, although it ended service to Long Beach on the same day. Volaris began service at SJC in May 2010 with flights to Guadalajara, Mexico. Alaska Airlines added service to Kahului, Kona, Lihue, and Los Cabos/San José del Cabo.[21] The airline also doubled its flights to several cities on its regional subsidiary, Horizon Air and added service to Guadalajara, Mexico, which began on December 15, 2010. Alaska now operates most of its Bay Area flights from San Jose.

Frontier Airlines pulled out of SJC in May 2010, citing lack of profitability on its single flight from the airport to Denver, Colorado.

In August 2010 Mexicana Airlines also suspended all flights permanently due to bankruptcy.[22] In the same month, Southwest Airlines announced it would begin nonstops to Austin, Texas. Several months later Alaska announced it was ending service to Austin, likely due to competition from Southwest.

In September 2011 Hawaiian Airlines announced that it would begin service to Maui on January 10, 2012. The same day Alaska Airlines announced that it would upgrade its service to Kahului and Kauai to daily; Alaska flies daily to Kahului, Kauai, Kona, and Honolulu.

In December 2011 All Nippon Airways announced it would begin service between San Jose and Tokyo in 2012, restoring the link between the two cities that was lost when American ended the route in 2006. The airline will use the Boeing 787, making San Jose one of the first two cities in the United States to see scheduled 787s.[23] However, the airline has postponed the launch of the route to early-2013 as the airline awaits delivery of additional 787 aircraft.[24] The airline launched service to Tokyo on January 11, 2013 with the long waited Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft. However, the 787 was grounded since the inaugural flight on January 11.[25] [26] Service to Tokyo has since resumed on June 1, 2013.[27]

On February 4, 2013 Virgin America announced it will begin service from San Jose to Los Angeles LAX on May 1st, 2013 with four daily nonstop flights each way. Virgin America will be the only carrier with first class service on all SJC-LAX and LAX-SJC flights. Virgin America will use its newer Airbus A320 aircraft on all flights between the two airports.[28]

Public art

SJC's new consolidated parking and rental facility, CONRAC, has been fitted with new public art featuring hands of people in Silicon Valley. The art is on the outside of the facility and can be seen from more than one mile away. Artist Christian Moeller designed the new "Hands" mural.[29]


Facilities and aircraft

Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport covers 1,050 acres (420 ha) at an elevation of 62 feet (19 m) above mean sea level. It has three runways: 12L/30R and 12R/30L each have a 11,000 by 150 feet (3,353 m × 46 m) concrete surface and 11/29 has a 4,599 by 100 feet (1,402 m × 30 m) asphalt surface.[2] The runway separation is less than ideal: 700 feet between centerlines.

In 2012 the airport had 134,947 aircraft operations, an average of 370 per day: 60% scheduled commercial, 16% air taxi, 23% general aviation and <1% military. At that time there were 123 aircraft based at this airport: 49% single-engine, 12% multi-engine, 37% jet, and 2% helicopter.[2]

From 1960 to 2010 San Jose State University operated a flight-simulator facility for its aviation program in buildings at the southeast corner of the airport. The university has since relocated to the Reid-Hillview Airport about 5 miles southeast.

Busiest routes from San Jose

Busiest domestic routes from SJC (April 2012- March, 2013)[30]
Rank City Passengers Carriers
1 Los Angeles, California 454,000 Alaska, American, Southwest, United
2 Phoenix, Arizona 339,000 Southwest, US Airways
3 Seattle, Washington 318,000 Alaska, Southwest
4 San Diego, California 305,000 Southwest
5 Las Vegas, Nevada 294,000 Southwest
6 Orange County, California 255,000 Southwest
7 Denver, Colorado 236,000 Southwest, United
8 Portland, Oregon 219,000 Alaska, Southwest
9 Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas 206,000 American
10 Burbank, California 191,000 Southwest


There are two terminals at the airport, Terminal A, opened in 1990, and Terminal B, opened in 2010. The terminals are connected airside. The airport's first modern terminal building, Terminal C, was opened in 1965 and closed in 2010.

In 2009, the gates at the airport were renumbered in preparation for the addition of Terminal B. Gate A16B at the north end became Gate 1, and Gate A1A at the south end became Gate 16.[31]

Terminal A

Terminal A has 16 gates: 1–16.

Designed by a team of architects and engineers led by HTB, Inc., Terminal A and its adjoining parking garage were originally designed and built in 1990 for American Airlines. The overall program was led by a joint team of San Jose Airport and Public Works staff known as the "Airport Development Team". The project was awarded the Public Works Project of the Year by the California Council of Civil Engineers. It underwent extensive renovation and expansion in 2009, with larger ground-level ticketing counters, more curbside parking space, larger security checkpoints, and more concessions. The renovations and expansion was designed by Curtis W. Fentress, FAIA, RIBA of Fentress Architects.

The terminal includes an international arrivals building, which contains Gates 15 and 16. All international flights (all of which depart at Terminal A) at the airport must clear customs from this building in order to proceed to their gates. The gates used in this building are also used for arrivals of Volaris flights.

Terminal A had an Admirals Club across from Gate 8 for American Airlines passengers, however the club closed in September 2010, with the airline citing rising costs, and cutbacks in its flight schedule at San Jose for the club's closure.

Terminal B

The concourse was designed by Gensler (see inset photo) and the Terminal by Fentress Architects. Construction management was provided by Hensel Phelps Construction Co. The terminal officially opened on June 30, 2010. Its design features dramatic daylit spaces, modern art, shared use ticket counters/gates, and chairs with power cords and USB ports on the armrest to charge laptops or handheld devices.

The terminal earned a LEED Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council in 2010 in recognition of the airport's significant commitment to environmentally sustainable design and construction.[32]

North Concourse

The North Concourse of Terminal B has 12 gates: 17–28.

The first six gates of the new concourse were opened to the public on July 15, 2009. The remaining gates were opened on June 30, 2010. Southwest Airlines is the primary tenant, along with Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air.[33] Delta moved from Terminal B to Terminal A on January 17, 2012.[34]

South Concourse

The South Concourse will be built once traffic levels reach a certain level determined by the city of San Jose to justify the expansion.

Airlines and Destinations



Accidents and incidents involving SJC

  • September 14–15, 1975 (1130 P - 130 A) - Continental Airlines - Boeing 727 (jet parked overnight). A man in his mid 20’s had raped a woman, attempted to rob a store, stole two vehicles, kidnapped a doctor and four others, then attempted to hijack a Continental Airlines Boeing 727 at what was then called San Jose Municipal Airport. The gunman had taken two airline mechanics hostage, demanding that they start the engines on the aircraft. As it started to roll towards the runway, the tires were shot out by police. Standing in the doorway of the jet with a hostage in front of him, while negotiating with police, the gunman pointed his gun at them and was shot and killed by a police sharpshooter, who was positioned on top of the Main Terminal (Terminal C).
  • February 17, 1981 – Air California (AirCal) Flight 336 (a Boeing 737–200), flying from San Jose, California to John Wayne Airport, crashed upon initiating a go-around. The crew was cleared for a visual approach to Runway 19R while the controller had cleared another flight to take off from 19R. Upon realizing the mistake, the controller ordered Air California 336 to go around and the other aircraft to abort its takeoff, which it did. The Captain of the landing Air California aircraft delayed the go-around, then retracted the landing gear before a positive rate of climb was achieved. The 737 with its gear up skidded down the runway before coming to rest. A fire started, 4 passengers sustained minor injuries, 91 other passengers and 5 crew exited without incident. The aircraft N468AC was damaged beyond repair and was written off.
  • April 7, 1994 – FedEx Flight 705, operated by a McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30 identified as N306FE, was flying from Memphis International Airport to San Jose and experienced an attempted hijacking by a soon-to-be-terminated employee. Auburn Calloway, the hijacker, planned to use the aircraft for a kamikaze attack on FedEx Corporation Headquarters in Memphis, Tennessee. The crew of Flight 705 were able to fight off Calloway and land the plane safely. This incident was featured on the National Geographic television show, Mayday (Air Crash Investigation or Air Emergency). The episode (Season 3, Episode 4) was titled "Fight for Your Life (Suicide Attack)"
  • October 25, 1999 – San Jose Police Department McDonnell Douglas 500N helicopter N904PD lost control while entering the traffic pattern at SJC during a maintenance ferry flight. The helicopter crashed into a city street, killing both of the occupants. There were no reported damage or injuries on the ground. The NTSB determined that temporary repairs made in order to ferry the helicopter back to SJC actually made the controllability problem that was intended to be solved worse. Pilot manuals and training for the NOTAR (no tail rotor) helicopter did not provide adequate preparation for the pilot experienced in conventional helicopters to recover from a stuck thruster condition which occurred.[35][36]

Former terminals

Terminal C

This terminal was built in 1965, before jet bridges (elevated corridors that connect planes to the terminal) became common at airports. Instead of using jet bridges, Terminal C mostly used airstairs. Some airlines, including Alaska Airlines[37] and SkyWest Airlines, used turboway ramps. In preparation for construction of Terminal B, the north end of Terminal C, previously home to gates C14–C16, which housed Alaska Airlines, Horizon Air, and Frontier Airlines, was closed for demolition in December 2007. The remaining portion of the terminal was reconfigured, including the addition of a new, larger, consolidated security checkpoint. The demolition of the north end occurred in February 2008, officially clearing the way for construction of Terminal B.[38]

In December 2009, United Airlines, Continental Airlines, and JetBlue Airways moved to new or reconstructed gates in Terminal A, as the area within Terminal C containing the three airlines' gates was demolished. Other airlines operating at that time within Terminal C remained in the terminal until the North Concourse of Terminal B opened in June 2010.

The Terminal C baggage claim was closed for demolition on February 2, 2010. This allowed for completion of the airport's new roadways. The terminal was officially closed on June 30, 2010. The remaining portions of the terminal were torn down in July 2010, and the space the terminal occupied now serves as a surface parking lot.

General aviation

Private and corporate aircraft are based on the opposite side of the runway from Terminals A and B, on Coleman Avenue.

  • ACM Aviation
  • Atlantic Aviation (formerly San Jose Jet Center)
  • AvBase, Inc.

The former General Aviation services were previously located, on the South end of what is now 30R, and was, in fact, the place for plane spotters and photographers with the San Jose State University Aviation Department formerly located at the corner of Coleman Avenue and Airport Blvd, which was at a cost of only $ 1.00 per year, paid to the airport administration.

Ground transportation

The airport's web site lists ground transportation options at SJC including taxis, limousines, rental cars, shuttles, and public transportation, which are located on or accessible from the airport.[39]

Public transit connections

The free VTA Route 10 Airport Flyer bus connects the airport to the Santa Clara Station for Caltrain and ACE commuter rail services as well as numerous local buses; and to the Metro/Airport Light Rail Station for VTA's light rail service.

The Silicon Valley BART extension is planned to have its terminus at an expansion of the existing Santa Clara train station, where it will serve SJC.

See also

Bay Area portal
Aviation portal


External links

  • Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport, official web site
  • PDF), effective July 24, 2014
  • Resources for this airport:
    • AirNav airport information for KSJC
    • ASN accident history for SJC
    • FlightAware live flight tracker
    • NOAA/NWS latest weather observations
    • SkyVector aeronautical chart for KSJC
    • FAA current SJC delay information
    • OpenNav airspace and charts for KSJC

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