I was impressed by your foresight/keenness of prediction in SFO's future.
Nearer Future (3-5 yrs.)...
The economic downturn will see a chunk of slots vacated at SFO, especially during peak times. Airlines will drop small aircraft with high frequency in favour of higher densities (i.e. UA 757's on west coast hops and A318/19's on FAT-SFO type routes). The runway construction will hopefully have commenced by this time.
I don't believe the economic downturn will cause slot vacations. Reliability issues, if anything, will. Don't forget the Bay Area still has a very robust technology and financial economy even if most dotcoms have dotbombed.
I believe you are right about higher density planes on west coast hops, though not that extreme. You will probably see more UA 757s/A320s out here scheduled as shuttle flights, but routes like FAT-SFO will not be upgraded to mainline metal. What's gonna be the case is that SkyWest will pour in a bunch of new CRJ deliveries to replace Brasilia flights. This is already happening on FAT-SFO, and will be happening on SMF flights shortly.
SFO will probably be slot controlled, due to the terrible delays and the sheer amount of flights scheduled for departure in small windows interspersed throughout the day.
There has been official discussion about this, and that is certainly a very real possibility.
International Markets, circa 10 yrs. ahead...
At the upturn of the economy, in a few years, the newly, or nearly completed runway expansion will afford airlines an increase in opportunities for scheduling as well as more favourable conditions in which to operate the superjumbo.
I imagine that in ten years, Asian markets will still be as important to SFO as they are today. SFO-NRT, HKG, TPE, and Manila will be popular routes, and with more Asian families settled in the Bay Area, families will probably be more likely to want to visit their home countries. The additional options at SFO will afford the airlines the chance to lower ticket prices, making it more economical for groups to fly, making it more of a family and group oriented sector, perhaps as important of a market as that of business travellers from the Bay Area to Asia. Potential expansions at Narita, Tai Pei and other airports may even make it easier to negotiate an increase in frequency.
I agree. Look for UA to start a nonstop flight to Manila, as well as resume a second daily HKG flight, third daily NRT flight, and possibly second daily KIX and SEL flights. With the advent of the 777LR, look for SIN and BKK nonstops. Thai comes to mind as a new entrant. Qantas will surely come back.
Domestic Markets (cicra 10 yrs. ahead)...
Frequencies will increase to secondary airports around the country and on SF-NY routes. More airlines out of SFO will favour Newark as an alternative.
As UA gets more A32X, look for more SFO-BDL type routes. We'll see about EWR, as UA and CO have that market sewn up.
West coast flights will see an increase as well into SFO, a major player continuing to be United. I predict that AA will probably try to make a go at it, but will probably focus on fortifying their Southwestern and Midwestern markets, with their still-new STL hub shouldering some of the ORD/DFW burdens as a waypoint for cross-country flights. UA will probably increase frequency on a number of flights, but I think that they will leave AS alone due to the passenger loyalty to the carrier at SFO. I think that UA will understand that stamping out AS and other smaller airlines will mean a decrease in traffic, due to an influx to OAK and SJC in search of low fares. The exodus would force the Airport Commision to increase a number of fees to compensate, the costs eventually being passed on to airlines, including UA, the goliath that would be the hardest to fall because of the number of take-offs and landings they slate in a day.
Yup. But AA is already making a go out of SJC.
Terminal Layout 10 years away...
It would be safe to assume that, due to the land area afforded by the airport's runway proposals, a satellite terminal or concourse extension specifically for west coast flights will be made, giving the airport around maybe 15 to 20 gates of additional capacity. While seemingly small for a big airport, this will prove invaluable. This would be in addition to the reconfiguration of the old International terminal to domestic facilities. Of course, the airport may even choose to avoid building a new pier due to the reconfiguration of the old Int'l terminal and choose to slate the land area for cargo and larger maintenance facilities. This seems more likely than investing in a new pier with the Int'l terminal already relieving some of the burden from the other domestic concourses.
Recently, I had the chance to speak with Burl A. Toler, Jr., the Project Manager and resident Architect at SFO. The international terminal reconfiguration is still in very early design stages, as no airlines have fully committed to being tenants there. Many of the tenants there will be the ones evicted from concourse A (being demolished) and concourse B (being renovated).
Re: a possible satellite terminal and/or new cargo facilities... UA might very well be moving its gigantic maintenance operation out of SFO. There will be a lot of land there up for bidding, for who knows what?
However, this 15-20 gate expansion will be accomodated by a new, completely renovated concourse B. The airport has plans to turn it into a similar "handgun" shape as UA's island hub. There are even at least 5 747-capable gates in design! Unfortunately, while the renovation has been roughly designed, there is no confirmed timeframe.