Port of Oakland considers possible name change for airport

The Port of Oakland, saying most people in the country don't know where the city is, has been exploring a name change for the Oakland International Airport.

In a statement Monday, port officials, who manage the airport and the city's maritime port, said people's lack of knowledge about Oakland's location in the Bay Area has hurt the airport's ability to attract inbound passengers. 

It's also led to a loss of flights into the city, particularly from the East Coast and Europe, and hampered the airport's ability to attract new flights, according to port officials.

"The airport is considering many ways to overcome this problem, including a rebrand campaign that may add a geographic identifier to our name to help inbound passengers understand the airport's proximity to the San Francisco Bay Area," port officials said. 

The port said it's not considering removing the word "Oakland" from the name and that the airport code "OAK" would stay the same.

In addition to people's general lack of knowledge of geography, the port's ability to attract inbound passengers has been complicated by online travel sites like Google Flights, Kayak and Expedia, that often don't offer Oakland International Airport as an option, according to a survey, which was sent out by the Port of Oakland about a week ago. 

"By updating the name to reflect the Airports service area, the San Francisco East Bay Region, more people will be able to book travel through Oakland when searching for travel to San Francisco and the Bay Area," one of the survey's questions says. 

It then askes people to rate that statement based on how convincing a reason it is for changing the name. 

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Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao and City Council President Nikki Fortunato Bas didn't immediately respond to a request for comment but some social media users took to the internet to express their displeasure with a possible name change.

"Just got a text poll, with several questions asking if I'd by (sic) OK w/ changing the name of Oakland Intl. Airport to San Francisco East Bay Area Intl. Airport. (Reason given in the poll was that out-of-area travelers supposedly don't know where Oakland is.) My Answer: HELL NO!," Robbert Gammon posted Friday on X, the website formerly known as Twitter.

Gammon is the press secretary and policy advisor for state Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Oakland, but said he posted the comment as a private citizen. 

To some it seemed like salt in the fresh wounds Oakland suffered by losing the Raiders and likely the A's to Las Vegas and the Warriors to San Francisco.

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"This is outrageous. Now they want to even take Oakland's airport. Who is even considering something so outrageous? Some really want to erase Oakland completely off the map," posted Elmano Gonsalves.

A spokesperson for the port said the rebranding process is still ongoing, will take a year to complete and that any decision would have to be approved by the Oakland Board of Port Commissioners in public hearings.


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