As COVID-19 vaccinations continue to roll out and air travel picks up as a result, San Diego County Regional Airport Authority (SDCRAA), the organization that owns and operates the San Diego International Airport (SAN), is also ramping up its team.
Just last month, SDCRAA named Hampton Brown its new vice president of revenue generation, marketing and innovation. In this role, Brown is responsible for setting the strategic direction for revenue, marketing and innovation as well as air service development functions.
Before being promoted, Brown, who joined the organization in 2004, served as interim vice president after the previous VP left the Airport Authority in September 2019.
“The revenue potential is tied to the number of passenger enplanements at the airport, so with the pandemic impact, we have been focused on taking measures to ensure the airport is ready to receive passengers when they are ready to fly again,” said Brown about the strategic growth and expansion plan. “As enplanements grow, we can re-open closed concessions and re-open valet parking among other businesses, which will have an impact on our revenues going forward. We are also engaged in efforts to restore lost air service because of the pandemic. Restoration of air service will help enplanement levels which equate to revenue opportunities. Post-COVID, we will review our list of potential revenue streams and determine their suitability for implementation at the given enplanement levels and demand expectations.”
Brown is especially looking forward to the restoration of air services to Canada and Europe, which have been suspended since March 2020. His hope is that both of those services can resume before the end of the year.
First Task at Hand
But first task at hand is the new T1 (Terminal 1), which is anticipated to begin construction early 2022 and scheduled to open in 2026. The latter year coincides with the projected return to pre-pandemic passenger volumes, said Brown, adding that he is optimistic that will be the case now that more and more people are choosing to get vaccinated.
The new T1 will replace the outdated Terminal 1, he said, and will feature a modern and efficient facility with the goal of enhancing the customer experience. This includes more gate seating, restaurants and shops, said Brown, as well as additional security checkpoints with more lanes. The new T1 project also includes enhancements to the airfield while providing transportation improvements that make it easier to get to and from the airport, he said.
“On Sept. 2, 2020, the Airport Authority Board approved design-build firm Turner Flatiron for the Terminal and Roadway package,” said Brown. “We are currently in the validation phase and working on our environmental permits. Recently announced, renowned artist James Carpenter will be the lead artist, designing the façade of the new T1. Timing is good to be moving forward. With fewer passengers in the terminals, construction would cause fewer disruptions to air travel.”
Right Man for the Job
Kimberly Becker, president and CEO of the SDCRAA, said Brown has the right experience and leadership skills to help with recovery efforts.
“Through the years, (Brown) has gained valuable experience in the airport’s relationship with airlines, our tenants and the broader San Diego community,” she said. “He regularly consults with regional stakeholders on how the airport can support their air service needs to enhance global commerce and our regional economy. Brown’s experience and leadership will be instrumental as we look toward recovery from the impacts of COVID-19 and development of new T1.”
Brown is looking forward to playing a major role in the airport’s – and the county’s – economic bounce back.
In March and into April, the airport saw an increase of passengers through the TSA checkpoints, he said; on March 28, the airport saw the most people through the TSA checkpoint since March 2020, for a total of 22,328 travelers.
“We know that people are eager to travel and now that the CDC has come out with guidance saying fully vaccinated individuals can fly, we know we are on our way to recovery,” said Brown. “The airlines are seeing that by and large, many people traveling now and booking for the summer are leisure travelers. Meaning, they want to go somewhere they can enjoy the weather, activities and visit friends and family. Throughout the pandemic, airlines have been adding flights from SAN for the obvious reasons – San Diego is a desirable place to be. However, for those San Diegans that want to get out and explore, there are quite a few new destinations that will be offered beginning in May including Montana, Arizona, Washington and Iowa. Travel to and from San Diego is beneficial to our economy which is the key to recovery.”