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SFO Has Largest Drop In Busiest Airport Rankings  
User currently offlineFATFlyer From United States of America, joined May 2001, 6007 posts, RR: 27
Posted (14 years 1 month 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 7482 times:

Preliminary numbers for 2001 have SFO experiencing the largest % and ranking drop among the world's busiest airports. SFO experienced an almost 16% drop in passengers in 2001 versus 2000. That dropped SFO from 9th in the world in 2000 to 15th in 2001. The drop also means DEN, IAH, PHX, LAS, and MSP are all now busier than SFO.

Media Coverage:

2001 Rankings
2000 Rankings

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness." - Mark Twain
48 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
User currently offlineBlatantEcho From United States of America, joined Sep 2000, 2027 posts, RR: 1
Reply 1, posted (14 years 1 month 23 hours ago) and read 7264 times:

That won't help them get the new runways they desperatly need.

Instead of seizing the opportunity to build NOW, while traffic is down, the public will say that traffic does not warrant new runways.

Fwiw, I avoid SFO at all costs whenever I can, I'm not the coveted business traveller, but I would much rather travel by car the extra distance to OAK or Sacramento (SAC?) simply to avoide the inveitable delays @ SFO.

Carpe Diem @ SFO? hardly, eco-freaks field day. Shame.


They're not handing trophies out today
User currently offlineHawkeye2 From United States of America, joined Mar 2002, 234 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (14 years 1 month 22 hours ago) and read 7223 times:

Hope this doesn't turn into a NorCal/SoCal flame war... such is not my intention, although I am a true SoCaler at heart This is not flamebait, but just my opinion, please don't delete this!

But face it, from the perspective of the airlines, SFO has serious weaknesses compared to LAX.

* LAX has good weather year-around, and runways that are properly separated unlike SFO, so delays are rare. Everytime there's so much as a big cloud in the vicinity of SFO, it seems that every flight gets delayed, and ripples throughout the nation.

* LAX has 2 1/2 the population of the Bay Area => more O/D traffic.

* the LA area economy is less focused in the tech industry, so it took less of a hit during the dot-com implosion.

* LAX has airport management with a clue (SFO's new international terminal: signs and announcements in English only in an International Terminal?! Rent for stores/restaurants 3 times the level of the old international terminal, for about the same traffic level?!)

* LAX is not singly dominated by UA, even though they are the largest carrier, unlike SFO (and DEN, IAD, and ORD to some extent) so not really affected as much by UA's misfortunes.

User currently offlineTravelin man From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 3626 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (14 years 1 month 22 hours ago) and read 7221 times:

Hawkeye2 --
I agree with you, and because of those reasons many Asia/Pacific airlines have chosen to make LAX their Trans-Pacific gateway to the US. None of these airlines have presence at SFO, but do at LAX:

Air New Zealand
Air Pacific
Air Tahiti Nui
China Eastern
China Southern
Malaysia Airlines
Thai Airlines

You can build a nice new international terminal, but it doesn't necessarily mean the airlines will come.

User currently offlineFATFlyer From United States of America, joined May 2001, 6007 posts, RR: 27
Reply 4, posted (14 years 1 month 20 hours ago) and read 7176 times:


LAX's ontime record is more perception than reality. When you check the statistics you see that delays at LAX are only slightly better than SFO. Those of us on short hops such as out of FAT end up seeing the delays at either airport.

For 2001 Totals of all flights at SFO and LAX
Late departures:
San Francisco (SFO) 21.82%
Los Angeles (LAX) 21.72%

Late arrivals:
San Francisco (SFO) 28.62%
Los Angeles (LAX) 26.08%


"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness." - Mark Twain
User currently offlineSJC-Alien From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 919 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (14 years 1 month 18 hours ago) and read 7136 times:

...ever since K-Mart pulled out,,I bet that hurt SFO Big-Time...

SJC Alien

User currently offlineBA From United States of America, joined May 2000, 11200 posts, RR: 57
Reply 6, posted (14 years 1 month 18 hours ago) and read 7126 times:


I posted an article about SFO's rank dropping on the forums about 2 weeks ago.

If you missed it, it might interest you: http://www.denverpost.com/Stories/0,1413,36%7E33%7E529909,00.html?search=filter


"Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need." - Khalil Gibran
User currently offlineFATFlyer From United States of America, joined May 2001, 6007 posts, RR: 27
Reply 7, posted (14 years 1 month 16 hours ago) and read 7104 times:


Thanks. April 16 fell during a busy time for me on campus prepping lectures to give. Your original post heading only mentioned DEN so I probably skipped it. Thanks for bringing it back to my attention.

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness." - Mark Twain
User currently offlineHawkeye2 From United States of America, joined Mar 2002, 234 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (14 years 1 month 2 hours ago) and read 7030 times:

Sort of OT (but who knows -- it might be anothe rreason why SFO is declining  Smile ), but I've always wondered why at SFO, there are no fast-food chains, like McDs, Burger King, etc (besides the "secret" Burger King in the CO terminal).

At almost every other airport in the US, there's at least one fast-food place, at least those I remember.

It might give the current overpriced, terrible food vendors at SFO some competition.

Was this by order of airport management; did the current food vendors want exclusivity or something?

User currently offlineFATFlyer From United States of America, joined May 2001, 6007 posts, RR: 27
Reply 9, posted (14 years 1 month 1 hour ago) and read 7030 times:

In the International Terminal, SFO wanted local restaurants to create something not seen in every airport.

I'm not sure about the domestic terminals.

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness." - Mark Twain
User currently offlineMacmac76 From United States of America, joined Sep 2000, 234 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (14 years 1 month ago) and read 7012 times:

SFO's ranking among the airports in the US is due to the fact that SFO is not a hub and spoke airport. It's mostly a "final destination" city that's why it's ranking is not as high up right now as IAH, or DEN, or PHX...those airports are HUB airports and most passengers connect to other flights. SFO, considering that SF is a tourist destination, tend to be the final destination...maybe a few connections to HNL or Asia, but not like ATL or DFW. I still love the new international terminal...such a work of art. I am sure SFO will bounce back in terms of traffic and hopefully airlines such as Alitalia or Swiss will come back. And nothing beats the bay approach over the water and over San Mateo bridge!

User currently offlineDelta15 From United States of America, joined Nov 1999, 617 posts, RR: 4
Reply 11, posted (14 years 4 weeks 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 7001 times:

Where is the secret burger king in the CO terminal? I walked up and down those stairs checking every door looking for the Burger King they said was there. My guess there is no secret burger king....

User currently offlineFlygga From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 12, posted (14 years 4 weeks 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 6978 times:

As you go from the CO ticket counter towards the gates, right behind the ticket counter is an elevator. There is a small (maybe 6in x 6in) Burger King sign next to the elevator doors. Just take the elevator up to the next level and follow the signs down the hall. It is there for employees but is open to anyone who can find it!


User currently offlineContinentalFan From United States of America, joined Oct 2000, 360 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (14 years 4 weeks 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 6980 times:

Oh yeah, I remember seeing that sign. Didn't know it was such a big deal. I'll have to check it out  Smile/happy/getting dizzy

I remember AUS is the same way w/ restaurants, but at least the restaurants there are reasonably priced and pretty good (pretty much the same stuff that I ate when I lived in Austin, in fact).


User currently offline9V-SVE From Singapore, joined Nov 2001, 2066 posts, RR: 1
Reply 14, posted (14 years 4 weeks 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 6966 times:

I love the SFO approach in FS. Over that bridge-what's its name?

User currently offlineRogueTrader From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 15, posted (14 years 4 weeks 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 6946 times:

What kind of cultural police manage SFO anyway? Did they hire the French for this job? What about the rest of us who actually LIKE the dependability (and low price) of McDonald's or Burger King when we're on the road? But no, don't let the market decide, the airport management has decided for us that we need to experience more culturally sensitive food.

I think a big reason for SFO's drop off in rank is the lackluster Asian situation. When traffic declines, consolidation occurs, and this has obviously taken place at LAX and not SFO. If Asia ever booms again, SFO will as well. But, for now, its been reduced to more of a O&D airport for local traffic.

kind regards,


User currently offlineFlygga From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 16, posted (14 years 4 weeks 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 6927 times:

You have to be from SF to understand the politics in that city. It is much different than anywhere else in the US. Speaking of fast food, for the longest time in the 70's there were no chain fast food resturants in SF. They fought for the longest time to keep them out. I still think there may still be a ban on drive through windows in the city of SF however. As for the airport food, the resturants in the new internation terminal are great and prices are reasonable. The resturants had to agree to charge only "street" prices for food in the terminal. The rest of the airport unfortunately is another story.

Richard Silagi

User currently offlineRayChuang From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 8364 posts, RR: 4
Reply 17, posted (14 years 4 weeks 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 6906 times:

One of my concerns is that if SFIA authorities don't find a way to get back the international traffic, we could end up with a situation where there will be a big drop in international flights and SFO's new International Terminal becomes an expensive white elephant.

Oh, you'll still get the Asian international flights but don't be surprised many flights to Europe will end up going to LAX instead, force passengers to fly to LAX to catch these flights.

User currently offlineAirworthy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 18, posted (14 years 4 weeks 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 6886 times:

Keep in mind a large part of this drop is due to domestic cutbacks, most of all by United, the carrier with a market share traditionally hovering above 55% here.

After 9/11 (and aftermath of the -here we go again- the "dot-com implosion") UA's SFO operation was reduced drastically from about ~240 flights to ~170 flights by summertime. That's a cut of about a third of the UA flights!

A lot of this has to do with the elimination of United Shuttle and transfer of some of those former routes to United Express-SkyWest.

User currently offlineEzra From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 492 posts, RR: 2
Reply 19, posted (14 years 4 weeks 1 day 4 hours ago) and read 6878 times:

Speaking hypothetically, if a carrier were either to build its own Asian network and requisite domestic feed (at LAX) or acquire another carrier's Asian network and domestic feed (at SFO), which would be the more profitable market: LAX or SFO? For what reasons?



User currently offlineMAH4546 From Sweden, joined Jan 2001, 34614 posts, RR: 70
Reply 20, posted (14 years 4 weeks 23 hours ago) and read 6844 times:

Ezra, it is my understanding that San Francisco is a higher-yielding destination.

User currently offlineSpark From United States of America, joined Mar 2002, 431 posts, RR: 0
Reply 21, posted (14 years 4 weeks 14 hours ago) and read 6808 times:

Airworthy made a valid point about SFO decline. There were two major reasons for SFO's decline.
1. United was the airline hardest hit by the recession and post 9-11 aftermath. Most of their problems came from mismanagement, but they definitely took one in the guts after 9-11. Of the United airports to take hits, SFO lead the way. Since United operates about 50% of the traffic from SFO, that was a large percentage of flights from SFO.
2. The high-tech industry was the hardest hit by the recession, and it hit the Bay Area.
Does anyone have the numbers as far as destination airports (Airports in which passengers actually begin or end the journeys, as opposed to just fly through like DEN, ATL, or the other Hub airports)? I think SFO is still very high on that list, since the Bay Area is the fourth largest metro area in the USA, and one of the top economic cities in the world.

User currently offlineAirworthy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 22, posted (14 years 4 weeks 2 hours ago) and read 6789 times:

SFO has tremendously high yields.

Believe it or not, pre-09/11, even with half of the daily flights of ORD, UA's SFO operation generated more revenue. There are SO MANY United widebodies that go in and out of SFO every day.

Like I said, people here take for granted the plethora of United widebody service.

User currently offlineRogueTrader From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 23, posted (14 years 4 weeks 2 hours ago) and read 6789 times:

If UA cut service to a high yield market, then they were dumb. Or maybe SFO wasn't so high yield. Which is more likely the truth?

Every thread that talks about any particular city always generates a certain set of replies:

--my city is very high yield
--the planes to/from my city are always full
--airlines could operate ten 747-400s a day on route X from my city and still be full of high yield passengers
--my city is very important for airline x

SFO is a great city, probably the best looking city in the USA. But the above type of comments have lost all their meaning because everyone says them about their own city.

kind regards,


User currently offlineAirworthy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 24, posted (14 years 4 weeks 2 hours ago) and read 6780 times:


Do some further inspection.

The reason why UA cut so much service was mainly that it cut the LOW-YIELD United Shuttle service. Some routes were transferred over to UAX. Also, SFO was/is UA's largest international gateway.

Seeing as SFO was the largest Shuttle station, it's not at all hard to figure out that a combination of the elimination of Shuttle, system-wide frequency cuts, and reduction of some unprofitable international service lead to a large reduction in UA service.

The truth is:

  • SFO IS high-yield. Why do you think UA has *2* of the largest airline lounges in the nation here? Why do you think Premiers, Premier Executives, and 1K's are a dime a dozen on all the flights here? There are so many gold boarding passes floating around one begins to wonder... is it that easy to get status on UA? No, you just have to do a lot of flying, which customers in a high-yield O&D city like SFO do.

  • Most LFs to/from SFO are very high right now. Especially coming to SFO, the loads are very packed.

  • United operates around 20 departing/arriving 777 flights, many 767 flights, and numerous (the most in its system) 747-400 flights per day out of SFO. And most of these planes go out pretty full, with the premium classes at least filling up to the brim, chock full of elite flyers, and abounding with full-fare pax.

  • SFO is very, very important for UA. Like I said, it is UA's largest international gateway, and is one of UA's largest revenue generators.

    If you want to dismiss this all as biased speculation, go ahead. I don't care. I just wanted to prove you were wrong about generalizing this thread.

  • 25 RogueTrader : I really wasn't commenting on whether or not SFO is all the things you say it is. I'm just pointing out that because everyone says the same things abo
    26 Post contains images Airworthy : These contain the strongest point as well: After 9/11 (and aftermath of the -here we go again- the "dot-com implosion") UA's SFO operation was reduced
    27 Travelin man : Actually, United slashed more flights from LAX than from any other hub (LA Times, January 2002). United cut more than 1/3 of its LAX flights, and now
    28 Post contains images Airworthy : Travellin man-- How have other carriers filled in the gap at LAX? I haven't seen anyone announcing much new service there since 09/11... On a sidenote
    29 Travelin man : Ugghhh... don't even get me started on the "remodeling" job United did at LAX. Sorry, but AA has shown how it REALLY needs to be done (with an incredi
    30 Post contains images Airworthy : I forgot about WN. I don't know where all the money UA spent on the LAX renovation went to... it was such a shoddy job, no doubt much of it was slushe
    31 Ezra : So let's say, hypothetically, that Delta purchases the Pacific routes and feed from a cash-strapped United. Would Delta be better off sticking with S
    32 RogueTrader : I certainly agree that UA has serious management problems, insofar as one can even say they currently are being managed at all. However, they have ple
    33 Ezra : My interest is purely hypothetical -- what I'm positing isn't even on the radar screen. I'm merely interested in which would be the better market for
    34 RogueTrader : Your wording leaves a little confustion. If by 'new entrant' you mean a Delta, then I think LAX is certainly better. If you look at the stronger and w
    35 Spark : Ezra, to answer your hypothetical situation, I could see Delta moving most operations to LAX. However, I think pigs will fly and it will snow in H-E-(
    36 Airworthy : Philippine Airlines still flies to LAX!
    37 Bkkair : PR has flown to SFO since the '40's and to LAX since the '80's. Still flying daily to both cities on a mix of 744's and 340's.
    38 RayChuang : Fortunately, an article in yesterday's USA Today indicate that transpacific traffic is rising again. That means UA may switch a number of transpacific
    39 Ezra : Thanks for indulging my hypothetical, guys!
    40 Airworthy : Actually, Ray, the only route UA is switching back to a 747-400 is the 2nd daily SFO-NRT. UA is also adding a 3rd daily SFO-NRT with a 744, it seems a
    41 Post contains images Travelin man : Yeah, if Delta happened to get the Pacific routes from United, I definitely would see them moving them to LAX (as they did with their PDX Pacific rout
    42 Johnboy : It's always seemed strange that there's been no SFO-AKL nonstop service on UA (or NZ for that matter).
    43 Zionstrat : Routing certainly isn't my specialty, but can anyone explain how SFO could possibly fall behind LAS and PHX? There's no doubt that a lots of US folks
    44 ORD : You mentioned earlier UA's and AA's monopoly on LA-Chicago service (ultil Southwest announced service). Actually, ATA has about 30% of the LA-Chicago
    45 Travelin man : I thought about ATA after I posted. You are right, they were offering service to MDW. I am surprised, though, that they have 30% of the market! I thin
    46 Post contains links FATFlyer : Zionstrat, If you go back to the original article http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2002/05/03/MN43646.DTL passenger numbers at the
    47 Zionstrat : Travelinman and Fatflyer- Thanks for pointing out what should have been obvious if I had been awake - I even use SJC in the winter to avoid the weathe
    48 Post contains links FATFlyer : A little more about UA at SFO. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2002/05/09/BU76383.DTL This article talks about UA's financial situati
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