Last fall, I had the privilege of taking a regional economic development trip with a group of business professionals including the president and CEO of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, Kimberly Becker. She sat down with me to talk about how businesses can help the airport to be more successful.
What are some of the new locations, national and international, that businesses can access from San Diego International Airport?
Today, San Diego International Airport offers nonstop service to nine international destinations and more than 60 markets in the U.S. Last year, we launched new seasonal service between San Diego and Zurich, Switzerland, on Edelweiss Air. And last spring, we initiated year-round, five-day-a-week service to Frankfurt, Germany, on Lufthansa.
On the domestic side, we were excited to announce in the last year a new flight to Eugene, Oregon, on Allegiant Air that further opens up the Pacific Northwest, and new flights to Dallas, Kansas City, Seattle and St. Louis on Alaska Airlines.
Starting early 2019, we’ll offer a new flight to El Paso on Alaska Airlines, and new service to Nashville and Omaha on Southwest Airlines.
What kinds of goods and services does the airport contract for?
The airport, with approximately 9,000 employees, is like a small city. As such, we contract for a wide array of goods and services every day, from maintenance work to office supplies to security services.
Three years ago, we unveiled our concessions development program, which increased the number of restaurants and shops throughout the airport from 55 in 2012 to more than 80 today. It also created more opportunities for local and small companies, so that our concessions more accurately reflect a local San Diego flavor.
In terms of construction, the Airport Authority has undertaken numerous projects to redevelop our 661-acre airport over the last decade.
How can a small business do work for the airport? Are there resources to help them?
One of the most impactful policies put forth by our board has been the creation of a Small Business Development Program that ensures that local, small, historically underutilized, service-disabled veteran and emerging businesses have every opportunity to do business with the airport. Over the last decade, over $750 million and $252 million worth of projects went to local and small businesses, respectively.
Our team also helps small businesses obtain Disadvantaged Business Enterprise certifications and educates them on navigating the various steps associated with working on big public projects.
What is the airport incubator and why did San Diego International Airport start the program?
In December 2016, San Diego International Airport unveiled the Innovation Lab, which serves as a space where innovators can conceive, develop and test emerging technologies that have the potential to transform the airport experience for future passengers. The 3,500-square-foot workspace features a model ticket counter, gate and baggage belt that collectively represent a de facto “mini-terminal.” The Innovation Lab represents a partnership between creative minds in the private sector and our airport to brainstorm, beta-test and deploy new ideas, products, processes and systems.
Are there any big projects
on the horizon?
The Airport Development Plan is the Airport Authority’s planning effort to determine the future needs and plans of San Diego International Airport through the year 2035. The plan is currently in the environmental review phase. The centerpiece will be the replacement of the 50-year-old Terminal 1 with an attractive, modern and more efficient terminal with up to 30 gates. The existing Terminal 1 has only 19. The new terminal will include more gate seating, restaurants and shops, as well as additional security checkpoints with more lanes.
The Airport Development Plan also calls for a new, $165 million road to be built on airport property connecting Laurel Street and Harbor Drive directly with the airport, with no traffic lights.
The Airport Authority believes a strong connection to the region’s transit system, including the trolley, is extremely important for our passengers and for overall traffic circulation in the area around the airport. The Airport Development Plan provides a direct connector to SANDAG’s planned Intermodal Transit Center just north of the airport, which would serve Amtrak, COASTER, trolley and bus riders. The Airport Development Plan calls for a pedestrian/vehicle connection, with either an electric shuttle service or automated people mover to transport transit passengers directly to the terminals using a transit-dedicated, on-airport roadway.
There are lots of ways our business community can work with and leverage the San Diego International Airport to increase a business’s success. For more information, visit www.san.org/Business-Opportunities