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Airport Traffic at High Tide for First Week of July

TOURISM: New Terminal 1 Project on Track; New Parking Vendor Selected

SAN DIEGO – Comings and goings at San Diego International Airport are expected to peak over the Fourth of July holiday.

Since Memorial Day, summer holiday traffic has been running at a post-COVID high, officials at the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority said, adding that they expect this to be the busiest summer travel season since 2019.

Kimberly Becker
President & CEO
San Diego County Regional Airport Authority

“Since Independence Day falls in the middle of the week, we expect both weekends before and after the holiday to be busy travel days,” said Kimberly Becker, president and CEO of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority.

During this 10-day period, some 750,000 to 780,000 passengers are expected to arrive and depart from the city’s main airport. This is a 5% to 7% increase compared to this time last year and a 3% to 5% increase compared to 2019.

The single busiest travel day is expected to be the final day of the 10-day stretch: Sunday, July 7. Yesterday (June 30) was expected to be second busiest.

The Airport Authority is advising travelers to plan ahead because of construction activity at the airport. Check flight status, arrive early, make reservations for the Terminal 2 parking plaza (since Terminal 1 parking is not currently available) and consult the san.org website for more information.

AAA said that nationwide, it expects 5.74 million people to travel by air over the nine days between Saturday, June 29 and Sunday, July 7. That is up 6.8% from 2023 and 12.3% from the pre-COVID days of summer 2019.

Factoring in those travelers who go by car or other means of transportation, AAA predicts that nationwide, a total of 70.9 million travelers will head 50 miles or more from home over the holiday travel period. That is up 5% from 2023 and up 8% from 2019.

San Diego is not on AAA’s top 10 list of domestic destinations, though Los Angeles/Anaheim is. AAA compiles its top 10 list from booking data.

New Terminal 1 Work Continues

The wave of travel comes as the Airport Authority continues its work on its $3.8 billion New Terminal 1 construction project (abbreviated New T1). An airport representative said construction is on schedule.

The effort begins to pay off late this summer, when the airport expects the first stage of its New T1 parking plaza to open with 2,800 spaces.

Phase 1A of the airport terminal, including 19 new gates, is scheduled to open in late summer 2025, as is stage 2 of the parking plaza.

The 2025 opening will open the door to further demolition of the previous terminal 1. Phase 1B of New T1 is scheduled to open in early 2028. This includes the final 11 gates.

Travelers See New Flight Options

The summer travel season offers new destinations for air travelers out of San Diego.
Alaska Airlines began new service to Anchorage and Atlanta this year. It has announced service to Las Vegas beginning Oct. 1.

Breeze Airways began service to San Diego in April. The airline offers nonstop flights to Cincinnati; Jacksonville, Florida; Norfolk, Virginia; Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina; and Pittsburgh.

A second daily flight from British Airways – a seasonal offering that runs from April to October – kicked off this spring.

Frontier Airlines is offering new service to El Paso, Texas. This month (July), it plans to begin service to San Jose.

Southwest Airlines recently inaugurated new service to Columbus, Ohio and Pittsburgh. It has also resumed service to Milwaukee and Tampa, Florida.

SP Plus to Replace Ace in Parking Areas

In other news, the Airport Authority board agreed on June 3 to enter negotiations with SP Plus Corp. for parking management services at San Diego International Airport.

The deal will have a three-year base period and two options of one year each. It is not to exceed $56 million. The board made its decision during a special meeting on June 3.

The current parking services provider, privately held Ace Parking, also bid on the work but was not selected. Ace’s contract was set to expire yesterday (June 30). Ace, headquartered in downtown San Diego, employs approximately 140 staff to deliver services to the airport at a cost of approximately $8.6 million per year. The figure includes labor, overhead, equipment outlay and management fees, according to a report provided to the Airport Authority board.

SP Plus will manage 8,436 public parking spaces and 1,950 employee parking spaces by the finish of parking lot construction in the summer of 2025. The vendor will also provide other services including valet parking, security, lot maintenance, lot cleaning and customer service representative functions for taxis and TNCs (transportation network companies).

SP Plus has revenue in excess of $1.7 billion and served airports in Atlanta, Chicago (O’Hare), Houston (George Bush), San Francisco, Salt Lake City and the National Capital Region (Dulles).

Metropolis Technologies of Los Angeles closed its acquisition of SP Plus in May.
The Airport Authority reported that it received four proposals from parking vendors. In addition to SP Plus and Ace, it received proposals from ABM Aviation and LAZ Parking.

San Diego County Regional Airport Authority
FOUNDED: 2003
PRESIDENT & CEO: Kimberly Becker
HEADQUARTERS: The authority’s new building is at the southwest corner of San Diego Interna-tional Airport
BUSINESS: Independent agency, owns and operates the San Diego International Airport
WEBSITE: san.org
CONTACT: 619-400-2400
NOTABLE: On June 4, the Airport Authority announced it had received a $23.5 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration, which will go toward the $3.8 billion New Terminal 1.

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