San Jose International Airport Could Set Trend by Waiving Fees

Could the Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport in northern California become something of a trendsetter?

In a great story written by Maggie Angst of the San Jose Mercury-News, the airport has decided to waive $3.2 million in fees for airlines still struggling from the coronavirus pandemic, a move described as a way for the airport to keep the carriers it struggled for years to lure to San Jose.

“Given the unprecedented and enormous nature of the pandemic, we recognize a need to put some skin in the game,” Scott Wintner, director of marketing & communications at San Jose International, told the newspapers. “We want to demonstrate to our air carrier partners that we’re vested in their successful return to the San Jose airport.”

Seven airlines that provided intercontinental routes from the San Jose airport before the pandemic — Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, ANA Airways, British Airways, Southwest Airlines, Volaris Airlines and Hainan Airlines — will get both their landing fees and international arrival fees waived for a three- to six-month period upon their return to the airport, the Mercury-News wrote.

Whether that becomes a trend – or, as airlines might hope, a bidding war among airports – remains to be seen. In fact, some of the airlines have already begun actively soliciting other airports for cost reductions, the paper noted.

In essence, San Jose International is providing financial assistance to the carriers that use the airport. It comes at a time when airlines have already accepted more than $25 billion in grants and loans for their respective payrolls, and are hoping for a second round of aid to be approved by Congress.

The financial support ranges from about $24,000 for Southwest Airlines up to $688,000 for British Airways, for a total estimated at $3.2 million.

“It’s only a result of these programs that we’ve been able to land direct flights to Europe and Asia after going six to seven years without any such flights,” San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said.

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