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COVID-19 Safe Traveling during the Holidays – ADP Continues Environmental Review – An Update from Kim Becker: 11/20/20


I hope this note finds you well. The holidays are fast-approaching, and with them comes the normally busy holiday travel season. While this season will be different from years past, I thought it was important to reach out and provide an update on what we’ve been doing at San Diego International Airport to help keep everyone safe if you plan to travel by air this holiday season.


If you haven’t been to the airport in a while, a lot has changed. Our passenger volume as of yesterday was down 67 percent compared to this time last year. While this sounds like a lot – and it is -- this is up significantly from earlier in the year, when we were down by as much as 95 percent. 


Masks are required inside the terminals and on the airplanes. Our “Let’s Go Safely” initiative focuses on a series of health and safety modifications within the terminals, including enhanced cleaning operations, Plexiglas sneeze guards, vending machines offering masks and hand sanitizer, and floor decals and seat signage to remind people to practice social distancing. Additionally, our employees participate in personal health screens prior to entering the buildings each day.


Check out this video to get a firsthand look at what we’re doing to advance health and safety for everyone.


Our efforts have helped us become one of only nine airports in the world to achieve the Airport Health Accreditation from Airports Council International (ACI). This certifies that SAN is aligned with the ACI Aviation Business Restart and Recovery guidelines and International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Council Aviation Restart Task Force recommendations, along with industry best practices.


Some concessions remain closed due to the decrease in passenger volumes, but food and drink remains available throughout both terminals, including from the @Your Gate delivery service.


COVID-19 testing has also started at the airport. Alaska Airlines began offering tests at the airport as of November 16. The tests are for Hawaii-bound passengers and are done by appointment only. Other airlines may also offer testing soon. The Airport Authority is preparing to offer its own testing program for passengers, employees and tenants early next year.


We have also begun the process of restoring flights lost to the pandemic earlier this year. We are excited that Southwest began their long-awaited service to Honolulu recently. And Alaska Airlines will begin nonstop service to Cancun and Fort Lauderdale this week. Between currently served, seasonal and announced new markets, that brings us to 62 nonstop destinations, down from 70 pre-pandemic.


You may also be wondering about the status of the Airport Development Plan, which seeks to replace the outdated Terminal 1 with a more modern and efficient facility. We’re moving forward in a careful, deliberative fashion, and we remain cautiously optimistic that we can break ground in late 2021 or early 2022. We continue to navigate the Coastal Commission and NEPA environmental review processes. In September, the Airport Authority Board approved the selection of Turner-Flatiron as the design-build team for the new Terminal 1, associated roadways and parking structure. 


While my calendar tells me the holidays are almost here, I still can’t quite believe it. Whether your immediate plans include air travel to reunite with family, or simply staying home with loved ones, I wish all of you comfort, peace and joy. And here’s to better things in 2021!



Kimberly J. Becker
President / CEO
San Diego County Regional Airport Authority



Proceeding Cautiously During COVID-19 – Health & Safety at SAN – An Update from Kim Becker: 5/20


I hope you are doing well and staying healthy during these extraordinary times. I wanted to update you on how San Diego International Airport is continuing to adjust to the impacts of COVID-19, as well as provide insight on our recovery plans.


As you may know, the airport has remained open as a critical piece of the nation’s transportation infrastructure, helping to move much-needed supplies and cargo and assisting those with essential travel needs. Obviously, our passenger volumes have decreased significantly, and for good reason. But we want you to know that when air travelers are ready to return to SAN in greater numbers, we will be ready with a series of modifications and protocols to help ensure the health and safety of our passengers and employees.


As you can imagine, we’ve been fielding a constant stream of questions from the community, our partner agencies and stakeholders such as yourselves. I’d like to share some of the most frequently asked questions with you.


What is the airport doing to make air travel as safe as possible in light of the coronavirus?


At SAN, we are constantly adjusting our operations to better ensure health and safety in light of COVID-19. Our airlines and concessionaires are beginning to install plexiglass sneeze guards at key points throughout the terminals, and the Airport Authority is doing the same in our offices. Other efforts include the installation of floor decals to illustrate the six-foot social distancing requirements, signage and video display messages throughout the terminals that serve as a reminder to practice preventive health measures, and continued increased cleaning of high touch points.


Facial coverings are required for all passengers, visitors, tenants, contractors and employees while on airport property, excluding those with a medical or mental health condition, or developmental disability that prevents wearing a facial covering. Most airlines are also requiring facial coverings to board.


Is anyone at all traveling these days?


As you may have read in the news, the number of people through our TSA checkpoints is down about 95 percent from this time last year. And we anticipate departing passenger volume in fiscal year 2021 will be about half of the 13 million we expected pre-virus. 


And yet, as county and state leaders ease some restrictions, we’ve begun to see air travel cautiously pick up. On May 1 we saw more than 2,000 departing passengers, and on May 7 we had 2,500 departing passengers. This is still only about 5 percent of a typical, pre-virus day, but it represents a small, measurable improvement.


If I need to travel during this time, or pick someone up at the airport, what should I know and how should I prepare?


If you have an essential travel need, it is important to stay in close contact with your airline as the date of your flight approaches. Airline schedules have been fluctuating unpredictably. Although there are no crowds at the airport, please leave ample time to get to the airport and pass through security.


Wear a facial covering, as it is required on airport property.


We are temporarily consolidating some terminal operations to reduce costs and help preserve TSA resources during a time of greatly reduced demand for travel. This will ensure we can continue to provide a safe and efficient experience for those with essential travel needs. Thank you for your patience and understanding.


Effective May 7, Terminal 1 East and Terminal 2 East are closed to passenger operations. Southwest Airlines is still using its existing ticket counters in Terminal 1 East; however, its flights now operate out of the Terminal 1 West rotunda.


In Terminal 2, Alaska Airlines and American Airlines have moved their ticketing and gate operations to Terminal 2 West. Their ticket counters can now be found next to Delta.


We are monitoring the situation in the terminals on a continual basis. The decision to reopen Terminal 1 East and Terminal 2 East will be based on future flight schedules, passenger volumes and social distancing requirements.


Our concessions offerings are limited to essential items such as bottled water, to-go snacks and over-the-counter medicines.


Our cell phone lot is temporarily closed, however, you can wait for 10 minutes at no charge in our terminal parking lots.


The City is planning some major resurfacing work on Harbor Drive in the coming days and weeks. Be prepared for potential delays.


How have the airport’s finances been impacted by the crisis?


Due to the dramatic drops we’ve seen in airline service and passengers through the terminal, we’ve implemented a Financial Resilience Plan which enacts measures to trim expenses, including a hiring freeze, a reduction in non-essential expenses and delaying $170 million worth of certain non-mission critical capital improvement projects. We have also aggressively cut our costs and estimate saving at least $22 million in this fiscal year (ending June 30). We have also taken a very hard look at reducing expenses for the FY21 budget. 


To conserve energy, water and other resources during this time of low demand, we have closed some areas inside the terminals and also parking facilities, in addition to curtailing shuttle services. Those will re-open and restart as needed, always following careful consideration of health and safety.


Has the airport received federal assistance?


In April, San Diego International Airport was awarded $91 million through the CARES Act. The Airport Authority plans to use the funds for operating expenses and airport debt payments. The award of these funds will be tremendously helpful as we navigate the next fiscal year. We will proceed with caution and continue to make wise and prudent financial decisions as we navigate this crisis.


What is the status of the effort to replace Terminal 1?


We are proceeding cautiously with the Airport Development Plan (ADP), which is still awaiting federal environmental review and state Coastal Commission permits. It’s important to note we are constantly evaluating and re-evaluating impacts of COVID-19 on the ADP and all other projects and programs at the airport. The ADP contains several decision points, and as we approach each one, we have the opportunity to weigh all factors and determine the best course of action moving forward. The Airport Authority remains in close contact with tenants, stakeholders and partner agencies on this critically needed project.


In closing, I also wanted you to know that I was asked by San Diego Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer and County Board of Supervisors Chairman Greg Cox to join an advisory group charged with preparing recommendations for the region’s economic reactivation and recovery. I’ve been honored to be a part of this collaborative group and work with leaders as we find ways to safely return to a new normal.


I feel confident San Diego will always be a desirable place to visit. When you’re ready to fly again, we’ll be ready to serve you.


Kimberly J. Becker
President / CEO
San Diego County Regional Airport Authority



We're One Step Closer! – An Update from Kim Becker: 1/9/20

I'm writing to you today with good news: The Airport Authority Board of Directors has certified the Final Environmental Impact Report for the Airport Development Plan, which envisions the replacement of the 53-year-old Terminal 1. This brings us one step closer to realizing our goal of providing a significantly upgraded customer experience, similar to what our passengers in Terminal 2 enjoy every day. Of course, the plan also provides for new transportation and transit options that will make it easier for everyone to access San Diego International Airport.

We could not have achieved this milestone without the dedication, collaboration and commitment from our stakeholders and regional partners, many of whom showed up at the meeting or wrote letters to voice their support. Thank you to those of you who supported the project.

Here is an update on next steps:

  • In 2020, we will work toward several more milestones.
    • We will advance the RFP and RFQ bid packages that will provide all the needed services and materials needed to get the project off the ground.
    • We will prepare applications for the necessary Coastal Development permits with the California Coastal Commission.
    • We must clear one more regulatory hurdle with the federal environmental review process.
  • Our goal is to break ground on the new Terminal 1 by the end of 2021. Ribbon-cutting on the new terminal is expected in 2024.

I promise to keep you posted along the way. If you'd like to catch up on the project, you can read this excellent piece that ran in the San Diego Union-Tribune and you can also visit

Thank you again!


Kimberly J. Becker
President / CEO
San Diego County Regional Airport Authority

Moving Terminal 1 Replacement Project Forward – An Update from Kim Becker: 9/23/19

As many of you know, the Airport Authority team has been working hard over the past several years on the Airport Development Plan (ADP), which envisions the replacement of the aging and outdated Terminal 1, along with related improvements. Our goal is to ensure that your airport can continue to provide a world-class caustomer experience for decades to come.

Last week, we took a big step in this process. We released a revised environmental study for the ADP that improves on the plan in a number of important ways. As you'll recall, the original Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) was released in July 2018, and the community had a lot to say about it! Since then, we've held more than 100 meetings and did a lot of listening. Then we went back and revised our thinking to make the project work better for everyone.

When we say "everyone," we're talking about the 24 million people who fly each year to visit families and friends or conduct business; as well as our neighbors who live and work around the airport; and, of course, the 9,400 people who come to work at SAN every day.

The planning process has been a collaborative experience with regional partner agencies, stakeholders and the greater San Diego community, as we seek to create a plan that address the significant growth in passenger volumes we've seen over the years.

Nowhere is the impact of this growth more evident than in the cramped and overburdened Terminal 1. It was built in 1967 and served 2.5 million passengers its first year. In 2018, the same facility served 12 million passengers. Realistically, Terminal 1 has outlived its useful lifespan. That's a point on which virtually everyone agrees.

So the newest vision includes everything we've long planned for in a new, modern airport terminal, including more gate-area seating, restaurants and shops, as well as additional security checkpoints with more lanes. The plan still calls for a proposed on-airport access road that would remove an estimated 45,000 cars per day from North Harbor Drive.

But here are six important areas in which we've made changes to the original plan based on your feedback:

  • Transportation/Transit: The Airport Authority is working with SANDAG and other regional agencies to assist in their efforts to determine the best transit solution for carrying people to the airport. The Airport Authority has set aside space between the terminals for a transit station that could connect to a project chosen by regional transportation planning agencies. In addition, the Airport Authority will launch an all-electric shuttle fleet early next year that will carry transit riders from the Old Town Transit Center to the airport and back.
  • Forecast: The official activity forecast that projects growth in passenger numbers and flights has been updated, using data from 2018. The new forecast was approved by the FAA in mid-2019.
  • FAA Funding for Off-Airport Improvements: The Airport Authority has submitted a request to the FAA to approve using airport revenues to help fund off-airport roadway and transit projects designed to increase mobility to the airport.
  • Parking: The size of a planned parking structure in front of the new Terminal 1 has been reduced by 2,000 spaces, from a maximum of 7,500 spaces to 5,500 spaces (a net increase of only 650 spaces from 2018), to make room for the potential transit station.
  • Climate Action Plan: The revised ADP is better aligned with the City's Climate Action Plan. Initiatives include expanded electric vehicle charging infrastructure, a bicycle path on Harbor Drive and new incentives to promote alternative commuting habits among employees.
  • Sea-level Rise: The Airport Authority has completed a plan to address impacts from higher sea levels, more intense rainfall and extreme heat. For example, there is a plan to expand stormwater systems that provide the ability to capture and reuse more than 39 million gallons of rain annually. The Airport Authority is also partnering with Scripps Institution of Oceanography to monitor sea levels using advanced sensors in San Diego Bay.

One thing that hasn't changed in the ADP is the need that drives it. A new Terminal 1 will ensure that the airport can provide a better experience for passengers as their numbers increase – and passenger volumes will continue to grow regardless of whether Terminal 1 is replaced. The FAA and the marketplace dictate how many airplanes can take off and land. It is SAN's single runway – not the terminals – that determines the ultimate capacity of the airport.

You can read all about the ADP at, or check out a concise summary of the project here. You can dive into the full Recirculated Draft EIR here – where you'll find all of the revisions I talk about in this letter described in "Alternative 4."

As always, thanks for your feedback, input and support.


Kimberly J. Becker
President / CEO
San Diego County Regional Airport Authority

A Landmark Investment Connecting San Diego – An Update from Kim Becker: 7/2/19

The Airport Authority has reached a new 10-year agreement with its airline partners that will give the Airport Authority the ability to contribute over a half-billion dollars to help reduce traffic congestion and make it easier for everyone to access San Diego International Airport.

The agreement allows us to effectively partner with other regional agencies to improve access to the airport through transportation and transit projects. The Airport Authority believes a strong connection to the region's transportation system is extremely important for our passengers. We recognize that planning and paying for transportation improvements is a complex process requiring collaboration and coordination among numerous public agencies.

We know that no single agency can tackle this issue alone. We are pleased and proud to be working with our regional partners, including SANDAG, the City of San Diego, Port of San Diego, the Military, Caltrans and MTS, on potential transportation and transit connection improvements to the airport. In that regard, over the last several months, we've made great strides towards collaboration with our regional partners, as well as the airlines that fly out of San Diego International Airport.

I'll talk more about the details regarding the half-billion-dollar investment in just a minute. But first I want to stress that airline pre-approval for spending of this nature and magnitude demonstrates our airline partners' understanding of the importance of these transportation and transit enhancements to the community. It also demonstrates their commitment to the entire region.

This 10-year agreement defines the relationship between the Airport Authority and our partner airlines. It covers rights and obligations of the parties as well as rates and charges the airlines pay to use the airport's facilities. The airlines are our tenants and partners, and are a major source of income for the airport. The Airport Authority does not levy taxes. Airport revenue comes from rates and fees charged to airport tenants; from fees charged to businesses that use the airport property; and a small amount from federal grants.

This agreement addresses the unprecedented air passenger growth that has flowed through San Diego International Airport in the past five years, and the significant air passenger growth that is forecasted to continue. It's important to note that air passenger growth will occur regardless of whether Terminal 1 is replaced. It is somewhat counter-intuitive, but a terminal replacement does not create more capacity for aircraft operations.

We have just one runway. The FAA establishes the operating requirement for traffic in the skies and with just one runway there are limitations to the amount of traffic the runway can accept.

To be clear, the terminal does not create additional capacity. A new terminal allows visitors to and from San Diego to have the kind of customer experience we want for them.

The funding made available through the new agreement with the airlines will help fund transportation and transit solutions that are ultimately agreed upon with our regional partners. However, the ADP must proceed in order for those contributions to be used towards infrastructure.

While the specific improvements are being studied and not yet approved, the agreement ensures there will be substantial funding for those improvements should the Airport Authority and partner agencies decide to go forward with them. The contribution of over a half-billion dollars could help fund the following projects if approved:

  • $350 million for on- and potential off-airport public transportation projects in conjunction with regional partner agencies. We've all agreed that no one can do this alone, so this agreement allows the Airport Authority to contribute up to this amount when third-parties - such as regional partner agencies - contribute funds for off-airport transportation and transit projects.
  • As you are aware, space for a transit station is included in the current Airport Development Plan. This funding could also help pay for a new transit station on airport property that could connect to the regional system.
  • An additional $165 million – funded 100 percent by the Airport Authority and the Airlines - could be used for multimodal mobility corridor improvements also contemplated in the Airport Development Plan and, if approved, might include an inbound, on-airport access roadway adjacent to Harbor Drive and a bicycle path.
  • If approved, the roadway would connect Laurel Street directly to the airport, with no traffic lights. This would remove an estimated 45,000 cars per day from Harbor Drive. It also includes a right-of-way for future outbound lanes.
  • Additionally, the multimodal mobility corridor improvements could free up space on Harbor Drive for potential Rapid Bus or light rail transit opportunities that could serve not only the airport, but also Harbor Island redevelopment projects being considered by the Port of San Diego.

The Airport Development Plan includes projects that provide better connections for transit users, bicyclists and pedestrians, including:

  • New all-electric shuttle service to and from the Old Town Transit Center
  • Upgraded transit amenities at the new Terminal 1 curbfront, such as bus shelters, info kiosks, and electronic next-arrival signs
  • A new multi-use walking and biking path along North Harbor Drive

When needed, the Airport Authority will seek FAA approval for possible off-airport transportation and transit projects, similar to previous and current off-airport projects undertaken by the Airport Authority to improve Harbor Drive and Sassafras Street.

With this new agreement, we have a platform to move forward on two fronts: One, to provide a first-class passenger experience in the terminals, including a new Terminal 1, and two, an efficient and accessible transportation solution that relieves congestion and makes getting to the airport easier for everyone.


Kimberly J. Becker
President / CEO
San Diego County Regional Airport Authority

Looking Forward to 2019 – An Update from Kim Becker: 1/3/19

The new year promises to be full of potential for San Diego International Airport (SAN) and its owner/operator, the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority. And that means good things for the entire region.

This year, together with Mayor Kevin Faulconer and regional agencies led by SANDAG, we will address the long-standing issue of forging a better public transit connection to the airport. We believe it is time to collectively envision how people will get to and from the airport into the future, and make our transportation system the best that it can be.

At the same time, we will advance the Airport Development Plan, centered around replacing the aging Terminal 1. Everyone agrees this is long overdue!

Count on us to pursue more international nonstop service to Central America, South America, Asia and Europe, while adding new domestic routes, as well. We are committed to expanding our connectivity to the world.

You can also anticipate more opportunities for small and local companies to do business with the airport, something we are proud of, and committed to providing.

All of this will be made possible by leveraging the Airport Authority's strong financial position while:

  • Being a good neighbor to surrounding communities, especially when it comes to noise mitigation;
  • Deploying new sustainability initiatives that will conserve water and energy, and reduce carbon emissions;
  • Contributing to the regional economy through our growing economic impact – nearly $12 billion a year; and
  • Meeting growing demand and providing outstanding customer service.

We are committed to creating the world-class airport San Diego has come to expect and celebrate. We promise the best is yet to come!


Kimberly J. Becker
President / CEO
San Diego County Regional Airport Authority

Progress Toward a Better Airport – An Update from Kim Becker: 11/28/2018

Since my last message of October 24, there has been a series of very productive meetings with local agencies and Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer regarding the Draft EIR for the Airport Development Plan (ADP), and I wanted to provide you a progress report.

On November 20, Mayor Faulconer convened the leadership of the Airport Authority, SANDAG, the Port of San Diego and MTS with City staff. Specific suggestions to deal with both near-term and long-term solutions for traffic impacts and transit access were brought up and will be considered by the individual agencies.

The Mayor asked the participants to report progress in approximately 30 days. Time is of the essence, as delay will add an estimated $8 million per month to the total ADP cost. There is also universal desire to see Terminal 1 replaced sooner rather than later. While it is likely that the Airport Authority will recirculate the DEIR, that will depend on decisions made about the path forward.

Our goal, shared by many, has been to address comments on the Draft EIR for the ADP, including the replacement of 50-year-old Terminal 1, while allowing us to move forward expeditiously. Related traffic impacts and transit access will require the collaboration of SANDAG, MTS and other entities. Solving one of San Diego's perennial issues – transit connectivity to the airport – is now a group effort, as it should be.

On our part, we have developed an updated air travel forecast scenario based on 2018, which will be submitted to the FAA for approval this month. We have also committed to revisiting the parking requirement contemplated in the Draft EIR. And we have initiated conversations with the FAA about potential financial participation in off-airport roadway and transit improvements.

One point to emphasize is that the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority is regional far beyond its name. We serve air travelers from throughout the region. The airport's nearly $12 billion annual economic impact is truly regional. And our nine-member Board includes representatives from north, south and east, as well as central San Diego County.

It is exciting to report true progress. I look forward to updating you periodically as we advance our efforts to deliver a better airport for the region.

Thank you for your interest and support.


Kimberly J. Becker
President / CEO
San Diego County Regional Airport Authority

Working together for a better airport - A message from Kim Becker: 10/24/2018

You may have read media coverage about the Airport Authority's Airport Development Plan, which centers on the critically needed replacement of Terminal 1. The news coverage hasn't told the whole story, so I am writing to you today to provide a bit more insight and clarity directly from the Airport Authority. Admittedly, we may not have shared details of our program and the planning in a way that best addresses some of the stated community concerns, so my goal with this letter is to start a more positive and constructive conversation with everyone.

One key area to address upfront is the issue of off-airport spending. We've said repeatedly that the Airport Authority is willing and able to pay its proportionate share for road and transit improvements around the airport, but the message seems to have been lost along the way. Let me state unequivocally that the Airport Authority is ready and willing to pay our proportionate share for road and transit improvements that make it easier to get to the airport.

While it's true that the Authority must coordinate funding with the FAA, which regulates our spending, we are not forbidden from off-airport spending on infrastructure projects. In fact, we've done it before, working with our Federal partners to fund improvements to Sassafras Street, Washington Street, and Harbor Drive. We have already launched discussions with the FAA to determine the extent to which we can help pay for additional projects that are off airport property.

As many of you understand and agree, the plan to replace Terminal 1 and make related improvements is necessary to accommodate ever-growing numbers of air travelers and ensure the airport can continue to function efficiently as a gateway to the rest of the nation and the world. The airport already employs approximately 9,000 people and contributes nearly $12 billion annually to the region's economy, a number that will only rise with the successful completion of the Airport Development Plan.

Most would also agree that we need to provide air travelers with better ways to access the airport via both our streets and transit – a key part of the Draft Environmental Impact Report for the new Terminal 1 project.

The mobility ideas cited in our environmental impact report are not any one agency's sole responsibility. Recognizing this, the Airport Authority launched the Harbor Drive Mobility Committee in January 2017 to pull together our key partners to determine what improvements are needed and how we can work together to accomplish them. The committee includes planners and policy makers from the City of San Diego, SANDAG, MTS and the Port and others who would need to work together on mobility solutions around the airport.

We've also worked directly with SANDAG and MTS on near-term transit improvements to enhance the Trolley-to-Terminals connection to the Middletown station. We all agree that more needs to be done here, and we're committed to working with SANDAG and MTS to make this connection function at its highest level. Follow-up meetings to discuss next steps are already scheduled.

It's become apparent recently that long-held plans for mobility around the airport may need to be revisited. For over a decade, regional plans have called for an Intermodal Transit Center, or ITC, that would serve as a connection point for the trolley, Amtrak, the Coaster and, eventually, the planned high-speed rail. We've committed to providing an on-airport connector to this ITC.

While many are now questioning the region's established plan, the ITC remains the solution identified in SANDAG's Regional Transportation Plan, and it was therefore included in the Airport's EIR. If our regional planners determine the ITC is no longer the desired solution, and a change in direction is formalized, the airport can adjust plans for connectivity. We stand ready to participate in that conversation.

Further, our environmental impact report discusses other mitigation measures, including a connection to the Old Town station and enhancements to MTS bus service to the airport – options we are discussing with MTS and are ready to help pay for, pending MTS concurrence and FAA approval. These items and others were discussed at the Harbor Drive Mobility Committee meeting Wednesday (October 24).

Additionally, the Airport Authority has pledged $166 million to build a new entry roadway on airport property that will connect Laurel Street and Harbor Drive directly to the airport, removing an estimated 45,000 cars per day from Harbor Drive. Inbound airport traffic will be separated from local traffic on Harbor Drive.

This roadway improvement also provides a dedicated connector to the north side of the airport to allow the connection to the ITC to operate independently from all other traffic, something Circulate San Diego has been advocating for and that is already in the plan. Ultimately, the dedicated connection could become an automated people mover to the ITC, once that facility is built.

Another benefit of the on-airport roadway is that Harbor Drive will have to accommodate fewer cars, creating an opportunity for the City or SANDAG to use the extra lanes for a future dedicated bus lane or trolley line along Harbor Drive that would not be possible under existing conditions.

The airport's plan sets aside space for an on-airport roadway system for outbound traffic as well. To make that happen, the airport is seeking input from the Harbor Drive Mobility Committee on how to connect the eastbound lanes to existing lanes on Harbor Drive and Laurel Street to formalize the changes. Assistance from our partners is critical to developing the appropriate solution.

The airport, along with the airlines, is extremely eager to provide a better experience for our mutual customers. These customers are business travelers, convention attendees, vacationers, our service members and our own families and friends who use the airport every day.

We have heard from the community and we are taking your comments seriously. There is recognition that the Terminal 1 replacement project is too important, timely and necessary for our region to be delayed, but we have to do our part to address community concerns. We hear you and we're ready to pay our share of needed improvements.

We look forward to working with regional agencies and members of the community at large to create the airport we all need and deserve.


Kimberly J. Becker
President / CEO
San Diego County Regional Airport Authority


The New T1 is the Airport Authority’s planning effort to identify and implement the future needs and plans of San Diego International Airport for the foreseeable future.  The centerpiece of the New T1 is the replacement of Terminal 1 with an attractive, modern and more efficient facility with up to 30 gates.  In addition, the New T1 includes airfield enhancements and major improvements to roadways serving the airport that will help reduce traffic congestion.

The New T1 also includes a designated transit station area within walking distance of the planned Terminal 1 and existing Terminal 2 that could accommodate any type of transit technology approved by SANDAG, MTS and other regional partner agencies. 


The New T1 is needed to meet the demand for air travel in the San Diego region through the foreseeable future. San Diego International Airport (SAN) served more than 25 million passengers in 2019.  At only 661 acres, this amount of activity makes SAN the smallest major airport in the United States.  The number of passengers at the airport is projected to increase up to 33 million by 2030. The Terminal 1 replacement and related improvements included in the New T1 will optimize the airport site to accommodate this growth while maintaining high levels of passenger satisfaction. 

Ultimately, the runway, not the terminals, will determine SAN’s peak capacity.  The runway can only handle so many flights each day.  A new terminal, envisioned as part of the New T1, will allow for visitors to and from San Diego to have the best possible customer experience through the airport.


The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, which was created in 2003 to manage the day-to-day operations of San Diego International Airport and address the region’s long-term air transportation needs, is leading the New T1 process.

The Airport Authority is engaging both technical and community stakeholders to obtain input throughout the New T1 development and implementation process, including airlines and regional agencies. Following comments received from the original release of the Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR), the Airport Authority held more than 100 meetings with stakeholders and other local government agencies to gather input and make refinements to the plan.

One refinement will help address the long-standing issue of forging a better public transit connection to the airport. SANDAG has taken the lead on determining a regional solution to improve transit connectivity. The Airport Authority is working closely with SANDAG and other regional agencies to assist in their efforts to determine the best transit solution for carrying people to the airport. The Airport Authority has pledged to help implement whatever transit project is identified by SANDAG and regional partners.

  • Terminal 1 replacement: Up to 30 gates, including more gate-area seating, restaurants and shops, as well as additional security checkpoints with more lanes.
  • New three-lane on-airport entry roadway: Allows airport-bound drivers to merge from Laurel and North Harbor Drive onto a three-lane, free-flow roadway without intersections. This will remove airport-bound traffic from westbound North Harbor Drive, reducing congestion and allowing existing right of way on North Harbor Drive to be used for potential transit improvements and roadway reconfiguration.
  • Designated transit-ready area: Dedicated location for a future transit station that will connect to a regional transit connection and convey passengers within easy walking distance of the terminals.
  • Dual-level roadway and curbfront: Separates arriving and departing passenger traffic with an elevated departures roadway and curbside check-in.
  • Convenient parking: A state-of-the-art parking plaza that will provide more close-in parking and minimize walking distances. The parking plaza will replace surface parking lots and provide up to 5,500 parking spaces. All in all, the New T1, if approved, would result in a net increase of 650 parking spaces airport-wide.
  • Airfield improvements: Taxiway B realigned and a new Taxiway A to allow aircraft to travel in both directions.

The Airport Authority is committed to bringing sustainable design to its facilities, including those that will comprise the New T1. Sustainable design features will include:

  • New Terminal 1 and other related buildings will achieve at least LEED-Silver certification (or equivalent certification for other types of infrastructure).
  • Proposed on-airport entry roadway and new terminal circulation roadways will improve traffic flow and further reduce congestion on Harbor Drive, resulting in less greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Terminal 1’s more linear design, as well as the new Taxiway A, will help reduce aircraft taxiing time, resulting in less greenhouse gas emissions.
  • New gates will be fully outfitted with chargers for electric ground support equipment used to service aircraft between flights.
  • An underground hydrant fueling system will remove the need for trucks to deliver fuel to aircraft.

The estimated cost for this project is $3 billion. The Airport Authority is evaluating a variety of funding structures to finance construction. The Airport Authority is a public business enterprise that does not use local tax dollars.

In July 2019, the Airport Authority reached a new 10-year agreement with its airline partners.  As part of that agreement, the Airport Authority will have the ability to contribute over a half-billion dollars to help alleviate traffic congestion and make it easier for everyone to access San Diego International Airport.

The agreement ensures there will be substantial funding for transportation-related improvements outlined in the New T1 should the Airport Authority, and partner agencies decide to go forward with them.

The contribution of over a half-billion dollars includes:

  • $350 million for on- and potential off-airport public transportation projects in conjunction with regional partner agencies. The agreement allows the Airport Authority to contribute up to this amount when third-parties (such as regional partner agencies) contribute funds for off-airport transportation and transit projects.
  • This funding could also help pay for a new transit station on airport property that could connect to the regional system.
  • An additional $165 million – funded 100 percent by the Airport Authority and the Airlines – could be used for the on-airport access roadway and multimodal mobility corridor improvements on Harbor Drive.

Following comments received from the original release of the Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) in late 2018, the Airport Authority held more than 100 meetings with stakeholders and other local government agencies to gather input and make refinements to the plan. A revised Draft EIR was recirculated starting September 2019, reflecting those refinements.

On January 9, 2020, the Airport Authority Board certified the Final EIR and formally approved the New T1. Currently, the New T1 is undergoing federal governmental review by the FAA and the Authority is pursuing the necessary Coastal Development Permits from the California Coastal Commission. 

When COVID-19 spread worldwide virtually halting passenger airline travel, the Airport Authority cautiously evaluated moving forward with the New T1. A Financial Resilience Plan was implemented which suspended more than $220 million in Capital Improvement Projects. Financial arrangements with partnering airline tenants prior to the pandemic has allowed the Authority to carefully move forward with the New T1. Built into this planning are decision points to evaluate progress and determine next steps.

On September 3, the Authority approved the selection of the Terminal & Roadway design-build firm, Turner-Flatiron. Currently, a team of Airport Design & Construction staff along with Turner-Flatiron staff are conducting the validation phase of the New T1. With this continued progress, construction is scheduled to begin, pending receipt of all environmental permits, by early 2022 on the Terminal & Roadways.


The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requires agencies to complete a comprehensive study of all impacts to the environment associated with projects such as the New T1. The Environmental Impact Report (EIR) is an objective, full-disclosure report meant to inform the public about possible impacts to a range of resource areas and seek input on mitigation to reduce those impacts. Some of the resource areas analyzed include:

  • Air quality
  • Greenhouse gases and climate change
  • Water quality
  • Traffic and circulation
  • Noise

The New T1 is now undergoing federal environmental review by the FAA under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Airport Authority is pursuing the necessary Coastal Development Permits from the California Coastal Commission for the project. 



The airport revised and recirculated the Draft EIR in September 2019, and the Airport Authority Board certified the Final EIR and formally approved it in January 2020. The federal environmental review process and California Coastal Commission permitting process is expected to occur through summer 2021. Once all environmental entitlements are received, construction could begin in 2022, with the first 19 gates of the new Terminal 1 opening in late 2024.

The Airport Authority is committed to keeping the public informed throughout the New T1 four-year process. There will be multiple opportunities for public input during the planning process and the formal environmental review.

Request a Speaker

If you are interested in inviting an Airport Authority representative to make a presentation about the New T1 to a group that you’re involved with, please contact Jonathan Heller at (619) 400-2891 or




The Aviation Activity Forecast provides critical information that allows the Airport Authority to:

  • Plan airport facilities to accommodate passengers, cargo and aircraft operations
  • Estimate when San Diego International Airport will reach capacity
  • Provide data to forecast economic/revenue impacts of the airport

An updated Aviation Activity Forecast for San Diego International Airport was formally approved by the FAA on June 19, 2019.