An expansion on the horizon for San Jose International Airport

Mineta San Jose International Airport is on the verge of a billion-dollar expansion over the next few years. The changes will allow more flights and more passengers to pass through what’s becoming a legitimate competitor in the world of service. 

Sometimes, a good idea takes a while to take flight. For San Jose’s international airport, an expansion originally envisioned more than a decade ago could become reality in the coming decade.

“It’s about time San Jose had a jewel in the crown,” said passenger Maria Evans, as she checked in for her flight to South America.

Airport officials say double digit growth each of the past two years, and new routes from several airlines has created both demand and a need to meet that increasing demand.

“Our passenger activity grew by one-point-seven million passengers just in 2017 alone,” said airport spokeswoman Rosemary Barnes.

She says it’s still early, but the stately plan is to expand Terminal B, adding another concourse and increasing the gate count from 31 to 40. This would fulfill the original goal when Terminal B was built about 10 years ago.

“Our airlines are asking us for more gate space. And that’s on the heels of just adding two brand new gates in time for the thanksgiving holiday last year,” said Barnes.

There are no artist renderings of the new concourse that’s to be built. But the idea is to build it out from the existing terminal b, and into parking lots five and six just behind the camera. Of course, that would mean closing down these lots and building new parking.

The undertaking will add debt to an airport still paying billions on Terminal B, and still trying to lure every passenger it can. But experts say, you have to spend money to make money.

“The relationship between airports and economic growth is self-reinforcing and simultaneous,” said San Jose State University urban and regional planning expert Dr. Sarina Alexander.

By video call, Dr. Alexander said SJC’s growth is an extension of the on-going tech-boom. More people are here, or coming here. The ease of travel and flight reliability only sweetens this burgeoning hub.

“I flew out of San Francisco a hand full of times this year for visiting friends -- this one’s probably a smidge easier. Less traffic,” said Southern Californian Ashlee Barnette, who flew into SJC for a business meeting in Palo Alto.

Airport officials plan to make their one-billion-dollar expansion pitch to city council members in March. If a public-private partnership can be created to pick up the lion’s share of the tab, the plans could see clear skies ahead.