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San Diego International Airport

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Title: San Diego International Airport  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: San Francisco International Airport, Denver International Airport, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, Seattle–Tacoma International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport
Collection: 1928 Establishments in California, Airfields of the United States Army Air Forces Air Transport Command in North America, Airfields of the United States Army Air Forces in California, Airports Established in 1928, Airports in San Diego County, California, Buildings and Structures in San Diego, California, Charles Lindbergh, Transportation in San Diego, California, Usaaf Contract Flying School Airfields
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

San Diego International Airport

San Diego International Airport
Lindbergh Field
WMO: 72290
Airport type Public
Owner/Operator San Diego County Regional Airport Authority
Serves Greater San Diego
Location North Harbor Drive
San Diego, California
Focus city for Southwest Airlines
Elevation AMSL 17 ft / 5 m
FAA airport diagram
FAA airport diagram
SAN is located in San Diego
Location within San Diego
Direction Length Surface
ft m
9/27 9,400 2,865 Asphalt/Concrete
Statistics (2014)
Total passengers (2014) 18,756,997
International Passengers (2014) 672,972
Total Domestic Passengers (July 2014) 1,766,385
Source: Airport Authority[1]

San Diego International Airport (ICAO: KSANFAA LID: SAN), also known as Lindbergh Field, is an international airport 3 mi (4.8 km) northwest of downtown San Diego, California, United States. It is operated by the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority.[2][3]

San Diego International is the busiest single-runway commercial airport in the United States.[4] It is also the second-busiest single-use runway in the world after Gatwick Airport[5][6] with about 465 scheduled operations carrying 48,000 passengers each day; a total of 18,756,997 passengers in 2014. San Diego is the largest metropolitan area in the United States that is not an airline hub or secondary hub; however, San Diego is a focus city for Southwest Airlines.

The top five carriers in San Diego, by seat capacity, are Southwest Airlines (42.7%), American Airlines (14.0%), United Airlines (11.2%), Alaska Airlines (10.1%), and Delta Air Lines (9.9%).[7]

The airport has domestic flights, as well as international flights to Canada, the United Kingdom, Mexico, and Japan.

Convair had aircraft manufacturing plants near the field and used it for test and delivery flights from 1935 to 1995.[8]


  • History 1
    • The Green Build 1.1
    • Destination Lindbergh 1.2
  • Flight operations 2
    • Runway configuration and landing 2.1
    • Reverse operations 2.2
    • Noise curfew 2.3
    • Current status 2.4
    • USCG operations 2.5
  • Relocation proposals 3
  • Terminals 4
    • Terminal facilities 4.1
  • Airlines and destinations 5
    • Passenger 5.1
    • Cargo 5.2
  • Statistics 6
    • Top international (nonstop) destinations 6.1
    • Top domestic destinations 6.2
    • Annual traffic 6.3
  • General aviation 7
  • Nearby airports 8
    • Commercial 8.1
    • Public 8.2
    • Military 8.3
  • Accidents and incidents 9
    • World War II-era 9.1
    • Post-World War II era 9.2
  • Awards 10
  • Grounds 11
    • Endangered species habitat 11.1
  • See also 12
  • References 13
  • External links 14


The airport is near the site of the Ryan Airlines factory, but it is not the same as Dutch Flats, the Ryan airstrip where Charles Lindbergh flight tested the Spirit of St. Louis before his historic 1927 transatlantic flight. The site of Dutch Flats is on the other side of the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, in the Midway area, near the current intersection of Midway and Barnett avenues.[9]

Inspired by Lindbergh's flight and excited to have made his plane, the city of San Diego passed a bond issue in 1928 for the construction of a two-runway municipal airport. Lindbergh encouraged the building of the airport and agreed to lend his name to it.[10] The new airport, dedicated on August 16, 1928, was San Diego Municipal Airport – Lindbergh Field.

The airport was the first federally certified airfield to serve all aircraft types, including seaplanes. The original terminal was on the northeast side of the field, on Pacific Highway. The airport was also a testing facility for several early U.S. sailplane designs, notably those by William Hawley Bowlus (superintendent of construction on the Spirit of St. Louis) who also operated the Bowlus Glider School at Lindbergh Field from 1929–1930. On June 1, 1930, a regular San Diego – Los Angeles airmail route started. The airport gained 'international airport' status in 1934, and a United States Coast Guard Air Base next to the field was commissioned in April 1937. The Coast Guard's fixed-wing aircraft used Lindbergh Field until the mid-1990s when the fixed-wing aircraft were retired.

The Army Air Corps took over the field in 1942, improving it to handle the heavy bombers being manufactured in the region. This transformation, including an 8,750 ft (2,670 m) runway, made the airport "jet-ready' long before jet airliners came into service.[11] The May 1952 C&GS chart shows 8700-ft runway 9 and 4500-ft runway 13.

Pacific Southwest Airlines established its headquarters in San Diego and started service at Lindbergh Field in 1949. The April 1957 Official Airline Guide shows 42 departures per day: 14 American, 13 United, 6 Western, 6 Bonanza, and 3 PSA (5 PSA on Friday and Sunday). American had a nonstop flight to Dallas and one to El Paso; aside from that, nonstop flights did not reach beyond California and Arizona. Nonstop flights to Chicago started in 1962 and to New York in 1967.

The first scheduled jet flights at Lindbergh Field were in 1960, American Airlines Boeing 720s to Phoenix and United Airlines 720s to San Francisco.

The original terminal was on the north side of the airport and was used until the 1960s; the current Terminal 1 opened on the south side of the airport on March 5, 1967. It was not until July 11, 1979 that Terminal 2 opened. These terminals were designed by Paderewski Dean & Associates.[12] A third terminal, dubbed the Commuter Terminal, opened July 23, 1996. Terminal 2 was expanded by 300,000 square feet (27,871 m2) in 1998, opening on January 7, 1998. The expanded Terminal 2 and the Commuter Terminal were designed by Gensler and SGPA Architecture and Planning.[13][14] As downtown San Diego developed, the airport's 3600-ft second runway was closed as its short length provided no operational benefits other than to support the smallest of aircraft.

Built and operated by the City of San Diego through the sale of municipal bonds to be repaid by airport users, then the San Diego Unified Port District, the airport is now operated by the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority.

The Green Build

San Diego International Airport's expansion program, dubbed "The Green Build", is expected to help the airport meet current and future travel demands. Opened on August 13, 2013, the project focuses on expansion and enhancements at Terminal 2. Additions include 10 gates on the west side of Terminal 2 West, a two-level roadway separating arriving and departing passengers, additional security lanes, and an expanded concession area.[15]

Destination Lindbergh

On February 8, 2008, SANDAG and the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority discussed long-term future measures with three goals: (1) optimize the airport, (2) improve transit to the airport region-wide, and (3) reduce traffic congestion near the airport.[16] They created the Ad Hoc Airport Regional Policy Committee, chaired by then-San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders.[17] Destination Lindbergh was a year-long, comprehensive analysis that considered ground transportation, an intermodal transit center (ITC), passenger terminals, a consolidated rental car facility (CONRAC), airfield/airspace, environment, financial feasibility and regional development issues to ultimately produce a Draft Concept for the long-term development of Lindbergh Field. On March 23, 2009 the Airport Authority Board accepted the Destination Lindbergh Draft Concept for public distribution and directed that an invitation be sent to all stakeholders for future planning, and that the Concept establish benchmarks for operations, social and economic benefits, and transit ridership.[18]

The plan outlines three basic models of future development: north-centric (bordering Pacific Highway and Interstate 5), south-centric (where it is currently) and a hybrid version, with terminals on the south side, passenger processing, rental cars and parking on the north side, and an automated people mover connecting the two underneath the runway. The north-centric concept is hampered by the fact that the taxiway on the north side of the runway does not extend for the full runway length. For this plan to be developed, land would need to be acquired from the Marine Corps Recruit Depot to build the taxiway. Without this taxiway, all aircraft would have to land, exit the runway to the south, then cross the runway to get to the gates on the north side. This is the same reason that the Terminal (now Terminal 1) was constructed on the South side of the airfield in 1967.

Plans also outline dedicated I-5 on and off-ramps, and an 'intermodal transit hub' including a Coaster/Amtrak station, a stop for the San Diego Trolley system, and eventually a center for the southern terminus of the California High-Speed Rail line.[16] The approximate target date for completion of the project is 2035. In January 2013, then-mayor of San Diego Bob Filner stated that he had a plan to fast track efforts to make the plans a reality for San Diego. However, the airport is an independent agency and its planning is not controlled by the City.[19]

Flight operations

Runway configuration and landing

View of runway 27 approach with the displaced threshold in the foreground.

The airport consists of a single runway designated runway 9/27 for its magnetic compass headings of 094 and 274 degrees orienting it directly east and west in relation to magnetic north. The runway is an asphalt and concrete design with dimensions of 9,400 feet (2,900 m) x 200 feet (61 m). A displaced threshold exists in both directions. For runway 27 the first 1,810 feet (550 m) are displaced and for runway 9 the first 700 feet (210 m) are displaced.

Typical prevailing winds in San Diego are from the west and most takeoffs and landings at the airport are from east to west utilizing runway 27.

The approach from the east is steeper than most because the terrain drops from 266 ft (81 m) to sea level in less than one nautical mile. The runway is west of a hill with several obstructions, including Interstate 5 and trees in Balboa Park. Contrary to local lore, the parking structure off the end of the runway was built in the 1980s long after previous obstructions were built up east of I-5 and does not impact the approach.

Landing at the airport from the east offers closeup views of skyscrapers, Petco Park (home of the San Diego Padres), the San Diego Bay, and the San Diego–Coronado Bridge from the left side of the aircraft. On the right, Balboa Park, site of the 1915–1916 Panama-California Exposition, can be seen.

Reverse operations

Runway 27 (landing east to west), is a localizer-only approach and is unusable for landing when visibility drops below about 2 miles. This forces arriving aircraft to use Runway 9 (landing west to east). Because of the terrain east of the airport, weight limits are imposed on many departing aircraft depending on their required takeoff weights. As a result, some aircraft must take off to the west. While safe, these "head to head" operations slow the flow of aircraft for sequencing and create delays in the air and on the ground.

Terrain east and west of the airport greatly impacts the available runway length. Runway 27 (heading west) has a climb gradient of 353 ft/nmi (58.1 m/km) feet per nautical mile. Taking off to the east requires a 610 ft/nmi (100 m/km) climb rate.

Lindbergh Field does not have standard 1,000 ft (300 m) runway safety areas at the end of each runway. An engineered materials arrestor system (EMAS) has been installed at the west end of the runway to halt any aircraft overruns. The east end of the runway does not have such a system as its use would reduce the runway length by at least 400 ft (120 m), further impacting the runway's capability for departures to the west. Instead, the use of declared distances reduces the mathematical length of Runway 9 (west to east operations) by declaring that the easternmost end of Runway 9 is 1,121 feet shorter than it actually is (a net length of 8,280-feet).[20]

Noise curfew

FedEx McDonnell Douglas DC-10 coming into San Diego International

SAN is in a populated area. To appease the concerns of the airport's neighbors regarding noise and possible ensuing lawsuits, a curfew was put in place in 1979. Departures are allowed between 6:30 a.m. and 11:30 p.m. Departures outside those hours are subject to a large fine. Arrivals are permitted 24 hours per day.[21] While several flights have scheduled departure times before 6:30 a.m., these times are pushback times; the first takeoff roll is at 6:30 a.m.

Current status

As of July 2014, San Diego International Airport is served by 22 passenger airlines and five cargo airlines which fly nonstop to 58 destinations in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Great Britain, and Japan. Several carriers including Alaska, Southwest, and Spirit have increased their respective share of flights to and from San Diego. Flights between SAN and Los Cabos MX, Dallas, Portland, Boston, Washington D.C./Baltimore, Burbank, and Tokyo are just a few of the newest routes added in 2014.[22]

British Airways resumed nonstop service to London Heathrow Airport on June 1, 2011 with Boeing 777-200ERs. The airline dropped the route in October 2003, after the worldwide downturn in aviation after 9/11. The airline had been flying nonstop to London Heathrow (previously London Gatwick on their 777-200s); however, previously the route had been flown from Gatwick via Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport on a Boeing 747-400. After 9/11, the route was dropped to six days a week, then five, and then cancelled altogether. In June 2010 the European Union approved the new Atlantic Joint Business Agreement between British Airways, American Airlines, and Iberia Airlines, which dropped many of the provisions of the Bermuda II treaty and its restrictions on airlines flying to Heathrow. Oneworld members now can earn mileage on any American Airlines, British Airways, or Japan Airlines flight.[23]As of Sunday, March 27, 2016, British Airways will upgauge this flight from the current 3-class 777-200 to the 4-class 777-300, giving both a passenger and cargo capacity bump, as well as true first class seats.[24]

Japan Airlines began service to Tokyo-Narita on December 2, 2012, using the Boeing 787 aircraft. This is the airport's first nonstop flight to Asia. The flights used the 787 until its grounding when service was temporarily replaced with a 777-200ER. The last 777 flight was May 31, 2013. On June 1, 2013, 787 service resumed, this time daily. This route is covered under the Pacific Joint Business Agreement between Oneworld partners Japan Airlines and American Airlines.[25][26]

The busiest route by flight count is to Los Angeles with 25 daily round trips on United Express, American Eagle, and Delta Connection. The busiest route by available seats per day is to San Francisco with just over 2,816 seats on 21 daily round trips on United Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and Virgin America.

In January 2008, San Diego International Airport entered the blogosphere with the launch of the first employee blog – the Ambassablog[27] – for a major U.S. airport. Written by front-line employees, the blog features regular posts on airport activities, events, and initiatives; reader comments; and several multimedia and interactive features. It has been presented as a case study in employee blogging to several public agencies at the federal, state, and local levels.

In February 2008, San Diego International Airport was one of the first major airports in the U.S. to adopt a formal sustainability policy, which expresses the airport's commitment to a four-layer approach to sustainability known as EONS. As promulgated by Airports Council International – North America, EONS represents an integrated "quadruple bottom line" of (E)conomic viability, (O)perational excellence, (N)atural resource conservation and preservation and (S)ocial responsibility.

In May 2008, California Attorney General Jerry Brown announced an agreement with San Diego International Airport on reducing greenhouse gas emissions associated with the airport's proposed master plan improvements. In announcing the agreement, the Attorney General's office said "San Diego airport will play a key leadership role in helping California meet its aggressive greenhouse gas reduction targets."

Public transport is on Metropolitan Transit System bus No. 992, which connects the airport to downtown San Diego's train station, where connections can be made to other bus routes and the San Diego Trolley, COASTER, and Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner.

San Diego International Airport is testing a new system of airfield lights called Runway Status Lights (RWSL) for the FAA. It completed the rehabilitation of the north taxiway in 2010. A project that included replacing its airfield lighting and signage with energy efficient LED lights where possible (LEDs are only permissible for use on Taxiway Lights, Obstruction Lights, Signage, and Medium Intensity Runway Lights at this time – the runway at San Diego uses High Intensity Runway Lights) and is in the process of constructing 10 new gates for Terminal 2 West.

Due to the airport's close proximity to downtown San Diego, FAA regulations do not allow any building in San Diego to be taller than 500 feet.

USCG operations

The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) air station is in the southeast corner of the airfield. The installation originally supported fixed-wing seaplane operations, with seaplane ramps into the bay, and land-based fixed-wing aircraft and rotary-wing operations.

The air station is separated from the rest of the airfield, so USCG fixed-wing aircraft must cross North Harbor Drive, a busy, 6-lane city street, to reach the runway. Streetlight activation opens the locked gates to the airfield and the air station, and also stops traffic while aircraft are crossing the street. This was a common occurrence during the 1970s, 1980s, and early 1990s, when CGAS San Diego had both HH-3F Pelican and HH-60J Jayhawk helicopters and HU-25 Guardian jets assigned. Today, this is an extremely rare occurrence, as CGAS San Diego's HU-25As have been reassigned and there are no fixed-wing aircraft currently assigned to the station.

Relocation proposals

California State Assembly Bill AB 93[28] created the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority in 2001. The SDCRAA projects that SAN will be constrained due to congestion between 2015–2022.[29] In June 2006, SDCRAA board members selected Marine Corps Air Station Miramar as its preferred site for a replacement airport, despite military objections. On November 7, 2006, San Diego County residents defeated an advisory relocation which included a joint use proposal measure.[30][31]

Multiple studies have been conducted on where to place an airport dating back to 1923. The first study developed the site location plan for Lindbergh field. Eighteen studies were conducted by private groups, most in the early days by those who were opposed to Lindbergh being built instead of on land set aside at what is now Montgomery Field. One was a revisiting of a study done in the 1980s by the City in 1994 when NAS Miramar closed as a naval air station and was then immediately transferred to the Marine Corps as a marine corps air station, MCAS Miramar. Another was by the City of San Diego in 1984 and another that started in 1996 and sat dormant with SANDAG until the Airport Authority was formed. This study is the first study ever done to look for a new site by an agency that actually had jurisdiction over the issue, and the first non-site specific comprehensive study of the entire region.

Three professors from UCSD, Fred Spiess, PhD, former director of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography; Walter Munk, PhD, Secretary of the Navy/Chief of Naval Operations Chair for Scripps Institute of Oceanography and Frieder Seible, PhD, former dean of the Jacobs School of Engineering, proposed building a floating airport in deep water west of the end of Interstate 8 in Ocean Beach. Their plan would use Lindbergh Field terminals and parking facilities for passenger ticketing and security then whisk them by tram via Interstate 8 and an 'Archimedes bridge' to the floating airport, a trip of perhaps 15 minutes at 60 mph. Several groups have approached the Airport Board for sponsorship to apply for federal funds to develop the plan, but the proposal has never been given serious consideration. Now, the advent of 3D concrete printing and special polymerized, fiber-reinforced concrete mixes—an efficient method of construction—may make this proposal less expensive than building a new airport on land.[32][33]


Airport's Control Tower.
Terminal 1 of the Airport.

Lindbergh has three terminals:

Terminal 1
  • Terminal 1 is composed of two parts: East and West, and has 19 gates, numbered 1A and 1–18.
Terminal 2
  • Terminal 2 is composed of two parts: East and West, and has 32 gates, numbered 20–51.
  • All international arrivals at Lindbergh are handled in Terminal 2 East at gates 20, 21 and 22.
Commuter Terminal
  • The Commuter Terminal had 4 gates, numbered 1–4. The last flight to use the Commuter Terminal was American Eagle flight #2883, which departed on the evening of June 3, 2015. The last flight of the night from LAX (which would in turn be the first flight on June 4, 2015) docked at Terminal 1. Today, the Commuter Terminal houses the administrative offices of The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority.[34]

Terminal facilities

The airport has nearly completed a substantial expansion of concessions. A total of 73 new shops and food and beverage locations have opened throughout the terminals. [35]

Three airline lounges are located in the airport, all in Terminal 2: Delta SkyClub, United Club, and a joint Airspace Lounge/American Airlines Admirals Club.[36]

The airport is home to the largest airport USO center in the world.[37]

The airport promotes education about its long history,[38] and sponsors an "airport explorers" program.[39]

There are several well-known pieces of artwork on display at the airport.[40] Inside terminal 2 is a recreation of The Spirit of St. Louis. A popular piece with tourists is At The Gate which depicts comical characters patiently waiting for their planes.[41] Terminal 2 also features "The Spirit of Silence,” a meditation room designed by public artist Norie Sato[42]

Airlines and destinations


Airlines Destinations Terminal
Air Canada Rouge Toronto-Pearson 2
Alaska Airlines Boston, Honolulu, Kahului-Maui, Kailua-Kona, Lihue, Orlando, Portland (OR), Puerto Vallarta, Salt Lake City, San José del Cabo, Seattle/Tacoma 1
Alaska Airlines
operated by Horizon Air
Monterey, Santa Rosa
Seasonal: Mammoth Lakes
Alaska Airlines
operated by SkyWest Airlines
Boise, Fresno, Salt Lake City 1
Allegiant Air Seasonal: Bellingham 2
American Airlines Charlotte, Chicago-O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami, New York-JFK, Philadelphia, Phoenix 2
American Eagle Los Angeles 2
British Airways London-Heathrow 2
Delta Air Lines Atlanta, Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York-JFK, Salt Lake City
Seasonal: Los Angeles, San José del Cabo
Delta Connection Los Angeles, Seattle/Tacoma
Seasonal: Salt Lake City
Frontier Airlines Denver 1
Hawaiian Airlines Honolulu 2
Japan Airlines Tokyo-Narita 2
JetBlue Airways Boston, New York-JFK 2
SeaPort Airlines Burbank, Imperial, San Felipe 1
Southwest Airlines Albuquerque, Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Chicago-Midway, Dallas-Love, Denver, Houston-Hobby, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Nashville, New Orleans, Oakland, Orlando, Phoenix, Portland (OR), Reno/Tahoe, Sacramento, San Antonio, San Francisco, San Jose (CA), Seattle/Tacoma, Tucson
Seasonal: Milwaukee, St. Louis, Washington-Dulles
Spirit Airlines Houston-Intercontinental, Las Vegas, San José del Cabo 2
Sun Country Airlines Minneapolis/St. Paul 2
United Airlines Houston-Intercontinental, Newark, San Francisco, Washington-Dulles 2
United Express Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco 2
Virgin America San Francisco 2
Volaris Guadalajara, Mexico City 2
WestJet Calgary 2


Airlines Destinations
DHL Express
operated by Atlas Air
Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky, Phoenix
FedEx Express Indianapolis,Memphis, Oakland, Ontario, Los Angeles
UPS Airlines Honolulu, Louisville


British Airways Boeing 777 landing at the airport.
Spirit of St. Louis inside of the airport.

Top international (nonstop) destinations

Busiest international routes from SAN (Jan. 2014 – Dec. 2014)[43]
Rank City Passengers Carriers
1 San José del Cabo, Mexico 230,728 Alaska, Spirit
2 London (Heathrow), United Kingdom 167,614 British Airways
3 Tokyo (Narita), Japan 108,455 Japan Airlines
4 Toronto (Pearson), Canada 74,719 Air Canada Rouge
5 Calgary, Canada 63,988 WestJet
6 Mexico City, Mexico 42,681 Volaris
7 Guadalajara, Mexico 6,425 Volaris

Top domestic destinations

Busiest domestic routes from SAN (Aug. 2014 – July 2015)[44]
Rank City Passengers Carriers
1 San Francisco, California 765,000 Southwest, United, Virgin America
2 Phoenix, Arizona (PHX) 636,000 Southwest, US Airways
3 Denver, Colorado 565,000 Frontier, Southwest, Spirit, United
4 Seattle/Tacoma, Washington 531,000 Alaska, Delta, Southwest
5 Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas 498,000 American, Spirit
6 Las Vegas, Nevada 482,000 Southwest, Spirit
7 Atlanta, Georgia 406,000 Delta, Southwest
8 Chicago-O'Hare, Illinois 390,000 American, Spirit, United
9 Oakland, California 380,000 Southwest
10 San Jose, California 348,000 Southwest

Annual traffic

Annual passenger traffic (enplaned + deplaned) at SAN, 1949 thru 2014[45]
Year Passengers Year Passengers Year Passengers Year Passengers Year Passengers Year Passengers Year Passengers Year Passengers
2010 16,889,622 2000 15,746,445 1990 10,937,026 1980 5,213,356 1970 3,341,391 1960 878,669 1950 193,373
2009 16,974,172 1999 14,971,261 1989 11,111,080 1979 6,541,820 1969 3,320,576 1959 786,798 1949 139,327
2008 18,125,633 1998 14,340,447 1988 10,748,729 1978 6,185,583 1968 2,958,053 1958 698,543
2007 18,326,734 1997 13,900,712 1987 9,801,030 1977 5,447,648 1967 2,486,213 1957 682,609
2006 17,673,483 1996 13,461,361 1986 9,084,438 1976 4,912,368 1966 2,048,034 1956 582,120
2005 17,569,355 1995 12,908,395 1985 7,937,806 1975 4,490,668 1965 1,632,833 1955 496,641
2014 18,758,751 2004 16,517,153 1994 12,681,985 1984 7,173,272 1974 4,410,972 1964 1,319,855 1954 426,600
2013 17,710,241 2003 15,304,975 1993 11,817,706 1983 6,547,439 1973 4,274,286 1963 1,152,065 1953 402,674
2012 17,250,265 2002 14,731,518 1992 11,759,091 1982 5,630,343 1972 3,915,395 1962 951,655 1952 390,427
2011 16,891,690 2001 14,942,061 1991 11,185,920 1981 5,022,152 1971 3,464,174 1961 883,288 1951 321,189

General aviation

Landmark Aviation is the FBO (fixed base operator) at San Diego International Airport. Landmark services all aircraft ranging from the single-engine Cessna aircraft to the four-engine Boeing 747. Generally, they service corporate traffic to the airport. The FBO ramp is located at the northeast end of the airfield. Landmark Aviation was formerly known as Jimsair Aviation Services. Jimsair was the FBO at the airport for 55 years, until July 2008, when they were purchased by Landmark Aviation.

Nearby airports


Tijuana International Airport is directly adjacent to the Mexico – United States border. The Tijuana airport offers intercontinental nonstop flights to Shanghai, China twice per week as well as to many destinations within Mexico. Tijuana used to have flights to Tokyo-Narita, however this flight now only operates as a westbound fuel stop to Narita. The eastbound operation operates nonstop between Tokyo and Mexico City. When Aeroméxico began to offer flights from Tijuana to Asia, it hoped to attract passengers from both sides of the border, including those from as far away as Orange County. The airline offers complimentary shuttle service from San Diego.[46] Various proposals for cross-border terminals have been discussed over the years and a Presidential permit for the border crossing was issued in the summer of 2010.

McClellan-Palomar Airport is located approximately 35 miles north in the city of Carlsbad. The airport is served by SkyWest Airlines dba United Express with daily service to Los Angeles International Airport. It is planned to be the main base for a new startup airline, California Pacific Airlines.


Montgomery Field is located approximately 6 miles north of downtown San Diego.

Gillespie Field is located approximately 10 miles northeast of downtown San Diego.


Naval Air Station North Island is located directly across San Diego Bay from Lindbergh Field, approximately 1.5 mi (2.4 km) to the south.

MCAS Miramar is located 13 miles northeast of Lindbergh Field.

Naval Outlying Landing Field Imperial Beach is located 14 miles south of San Diego and within the city limits of Imperial Beach, California.

Accidents and incidents

World War II-era

  • On June 2, 1942, the first British Selma, Alabama was renamed Craig Field, later Craig Air Force Base.[48] Investigation into the cause of the accident caused a two-month delay in deliveries, so the RAF did not begin receiving Liberator IIs until August 1941.
  • On May 10, 1943, the first Consolidated XB-32 Dominator, 41–141, crashed on take-off at Lindbergh Field, probably from flap failure. Although the bomber did not burn when it piled up at end of runway, Consolidated's senior test pilot Dick McMakin was killed. Six others on board were injured.[49] This was one of only two twin-finned B-32s (41–142 was the other) – all subsequent had a PB4Y-style single tail.
  • On November 22, 1944, Consolidated PB4Y-2 Privateer, BuNo 59544, on a pre-delivery test flight by company crew out of Lindbergh Field, took off at 1223 hrs., lost its port outer wing on climb-out, and crashed one quarter-mile further on in a ravine in an undeveloped area of Loma Portal near the Navy Training Center, less than two miles (3 km) from point of lift-off. All crew were killed, including pilot Marvin R. Weller, co-pilot Conrad C. Cappe, flight engineers Frank D. Sands and Clifford P. Bengston, radio operator Robert B. Skala, and Consolidated Vultee field operations employee Ray Estes. A wing panel came down on home at 3121 Kingsley Street in Loma Portal. Cause was found to be 98 missing bolts; the wing was only attached with four spar bolts. Four employees who either were responsible for installation, or who had been inspectors who signed off on the undone work, were fired two days later. A San Diego coroner's jury found Consolidated Vultee guilty of "gross negligence" by vote of 11–1 on January 5, 1945, and the Bureau of Aeronautics reduced its contract by one at a cost to firm of $155,000. Consolidated Vultee paid out $130,484 to the families of the six dead crew.[50]
  • On April 5, 1945, the prototype Ryan XFR-1 Fireball, BuNo 48234, piloted by Ryan test pilot Dean Lake, on a test flight over Lindbergh Field, lost skin between the front and rear spars of the starboard wing, interrupting airflow over the wing and causing it to disintegrate. The pilot bailed out and the airframe broke up. Wreckage struck brand new Consolidated PB4Y-2 Privateer, BuNo 59836, just accepted by the Navy and preparing to depart for the modification center at Litchfield Park, Arizona. The bomber burns and the Navy crew of pilot Lt. D. W. Rietz, Lt. J. E. Creed, and Aviation Machinists Mates G. R. Brown and J. H. Randall, evacuated the burning PB4Y, with only Randall suffering injuries of first, second, and third degree burns and minor lacerations.[51]
  • April 30, 1945: Just before midnight this date, first production Consolidated PB4Y-2 Privateer, BuNo 59359, was being prepared on the ramp at Lindbergh Field for a flight to NAS Twin Cities, Minneapolis, Minnesota. A mechanic attempted to remove the port battery solenoid, located 14 inches below the cockpit floor, but did so without disconnecting the battery. Ratchet wrench accidentally punctured a hydraulic line three inches above the battery and fluid ignited, setting entire aircraft alight. The mechanic suffered severe burns. Only the number four (starboard outer) engine was deemed salvageable. Cause was an unqualified mechanic attempting a task that only a qualified electrician should undertake.[52]

Post-World War II era

  • On the morning of September 25, 1978, a Boeing 727-200 operating flight PSA Flight 182 on the Sacramento-Los Angeles-San Diego Route collided in mid-air with a Cessna 172 while attempting to land at San Diego Airport. The two aircraft collided over San Diego's North Park, killing all 135 people on Flight 182 and the two people on the Cessna, along with 7 people on the ground.


  • Airports Council International (ACI) ranked San Diego-Lindbergh Field the No. 4 best airport in North America in 2007. ACI also ranked SAN the No. 2 best airport in the world with 15–25 million passengers in 2007.[53] ACI also ranked SAN the No. 3 best airport in the world with 15–25 million passengers in 2008.


Endangered species habitat

A portion of the southeast infield at San Diego International Airport is set aside as a nesting site for the endangered California Least Tern. The least tern nests on three ovals from March through September. The birds lay their eggs in the sand and gravel surface at the southwest end of the airfield. The San Diego Zoological Society monitors the birds from May through September. The terns nest on the airfield because they do not have to compete with beach goers and the airport fence keeps dogs and other animals out, while the airplane activity helps keep predatory hawks away from the nests. Approximately 135 nests were established there in 2007.[54]

See also


  1. ^ "San Diego International Airport Serves Record Number of Passengers in 2014". Retrieved 2015-02-06. 
  2. ^ FAA Airport Master Record for SAN (Form 5010 PDF). Federal Aviation Administration. Effective October 25, 2007.
  3. ^ San Diego County Regional Airport Authority Archived September 23, 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Summers, Dave (May 30, 2015). "FAA Takes Steps to Change Rules Regarding Mental and Emotional Health of Pilots". KNSD (San Diego). Retrieved June 23, 2015. 
    Ziff Davis, Inc. (5 September 2006). PC Mag. Ziff Davis, Inc. p. 24.  

    Developing an Airport Performance-measurement System. Transportation Research Board. 1 January 2010. p. 112.  Halverstadt, Lisa (September 23, 2014). "For San Diego Businesses, the Sky Is What’s Limiting". Voice of San Diego. Retrieved June 23, 2015.
  5. ^ Gatwick has two runways, but is said to use one at a time.
  6. ^ Davitt, Dermot (December 9, 2014). "Gatwick Airport posts record month for passenger traffic in August". The Moodie Report (Middlesex, United Kingdom). Retrieved June 23, 2015. 
    "Freight Planning Fact Sheet" (PDF). Calfrans Office of System and Freight Planning. State of California. May 2014. Retrieved June 23, 2015. It is the busiest single runway airport in the nation and second in the world behind Gatwick Airport near London. 
  7. ^ "San Diego International Airport: successfully fighting to grow, despite opposition to relocation". January 16, 2015. Retrieved March 1, 2015. 
  8. ^ "San Diego Air and Space Museum". September 15, 2013. Retrieved September 15, 2013. 
  9. ^ "Port of San Diego map". Retrieved July 18, 2012. 
  10. ^ "" (PDF). Retrieved July 18, 2012. 
  11. ^ "Official site". February 15, 2012. Retrieved July 18, 2012. 
  12. ^ "Paderewski, CJ – Modern San Diego Dot Com". July 23, 1908. Retrieved July 18, 2012. 
  13. ^ "Lorraine Francis, AIA, LEED AP". Cadiz Design Studio. Retrieved July 18, 2012. 
  14. ^ "Special Projects". SGPA. Retrieved July 18, 2012. 
  15. ^ "The Green Build at San Diego County Regional Airport Authority". Retrieved June 16, 2010. 
  16. ^ a b "What is the Ultimate Build-Out for Lindbergh Field". Web. San Diego International Airport. Retrieved January 21, 2013. 
  17. ^ "Ad Hoc Airport Regional Council Committee". SANDAG. Retrieved January 21, 2013. 
  18. ^ "Airports in the Region Case Study" (PDF). American Planning Association (APA) – Divisions Council. December 2010. Retrieved January 21, 2013. 
  19. ^ "San Diego Travelers on Board with Trolley to Airport". Web. Fox 5 San Diego. Retrieved January 21, 2013. 
  20. ^ "KSAN – San Diego International Airport". AirNav. Retrieved July 18, 2012. 
  21. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions". The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority. Retrieved December 6, 2009. 
  22. ^
  23. ^ "British Airways to try S.D.-to-London flight for a third time Page 1 of 2". October 6, 2010. Retrieved July 4, 2013. 
  24. ^
  25. ^ Mutzabaugh, Ben (February 15, 2012). "Japan Airlines will use Dreamliner to fly from San Diego". USA Today. 
  26. ^ Weisburg, Lori (June 13, 2012). "Nonstop flights to Japan start Dec. 2". U-T San Diego. 
  27. ^ "Ambassablog". Ambassablog. April 16, 2012. Retrieved July 18, 2012. 
  28. ^ Wayne. "California Assembly Bill 93". Retrieved July 18, 2012. 
  29. ^ "Internet Archive Wayback Machine". December 11, 2005. Archived from the original on December 11, 2005. Retrieved July 18, 2012. 
  30. ^ "Airport Measure Shot Down". Retrieved July 18, 2012. 
  31. ^ SDCRAA Endorses Miramar For New Airport Site, Despite Military Protest (San Diego Tribune: June 5, 2006)
  32. ^
  33. ^
  34. ^ "Commuter Terminal Ceases Flight Operations at Lindbergh". 
  35. ^
  36. ^ "San Diego Airport- Airspace Lounge page". Retrieved 2015-02-23. 
  37. ^ Lee, Joseph Andrew (27 July 2013). "San Diego Opens Largest USO Airport Center in the World". USO News. United Service Organization. Retrieved 28 April 2015. 
    Peterson, Karla (2 February 2015). "Mr. USO’s big welcome mat". San Diego Union Tribune. Retrieved 28 April 2015. 
    Sutton, Lea (26 September 2013). "Largest USO Airport Center in World Opens at Lindbergh Field". KNSD (San Diego). Retrieved 28 April 2015. 
    Steele, Jeanette (25 June 2013). "USO: New center raises profile". San Diego Union Tribune. Retrieved 28 April 2015. 
  38. ^ "Aviation Education at San Diego International Airport". Retrieved July 4, 2013. 
  39. ^ "Airport Explorers at San Diego International Airport". Retrieved July 4, 2013. 
  40. ^ "Welcome to San Diego International Airport". Retrieved July 4, 2013. 
  41. ^ "At the Gate at San Diego International Airport". Retrieved July 4, 2013. 
  42. ^ Meet the airport's first meditation room; San Diego Union, June 20, 2014
  43. ^ | DOT T100
  44. ^ "San Diego, CA: San Diego International (SAN)".  
  45. ^ Air Traffic Reports Retrieved on Mar 28, 2015.
  46. ^ "Aeromexico hopes nonstop flights from Tijuana to Tokyo expand its clientele". 
  47. ^
  48. ^
  49. ^ Johnsen, Frederick A., "Dominator: Last and Unluckiest of the Hemisphere Bombers", Wings, Granada Hills, California, February 1974, Volume 4, Number 1, p. 10.
  50. ^ Veronico, Nicholas A., " 'Failure at the Factory", Air Enthusiast, Stamford, Lincs, UK, Number 124, July–August 2006, pp.31–33.
  51. ^ Veronico, Nicholas A., " 'Failure at the Factory", Air Enthusiast, Stamford, Lincs, UK, Number 124, July–August 2006, p. 33.
  52. ^ Veronico, Nicholas A., " 'Failure at the Factory", Air Enthusiast, Stamford, Lincs, UK, Number 124, July–August 2006, p. 35.
  53. ^ "San Diego-Lindbergh Field Ranked No. 4 Best Airport in North America" (PDF). Retrieved July 18, 2012. 
  54. ^ Davis, Rob (August 31, 2007). "Wildlife Agency Gets Pushback in Downgrading Endangered Bird".  

External links

  • Official website
  • the Flight Planner section of the airport's web site.
  • The Ambassablog – official Airport Authority employee blog
  • – Search for San Diego under Photo Search and see the colorful past of San Diego airport through the years
  • San Diego Airport Parking
  • IMDB movie: Billy Wilder's "The Spirit of St. Louis", starring James Stewart, 1957
  • FAA Airport Diagram (PDF), effective May 26, 2016
  • FAA Terminal Procedures for SAN, effective May 26, 2016
  • Resources for this airport:
    • AirNav airport information for KSAN
    • ASN accident history for SAN
    • FlightAware airport information and live flight tracker
    • NOAA/NWS latest weather observations
    • SkyVector aeronautical chart for KSAN
    • FAA current SAN delay information
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