OAKLAND — The Port of Oakland, which says most people in the country don’t know where the city is, has been exploring a name change for Oakland International Airport.
In a statement Monday, port officials, who manage both the city’s airport and seaport, said people’s lack of knowledge of Oakland’s location in the Bay Area has hurt the airport’s ability to attract inbound passengers.
It has 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, port officials said.
“The airport is considering many ways to address this issue, including a rebrand campaign that could 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 was not considering removing the word “Oakland” from the name and that the airport code “OAK” would remain the same.
In addition to the people’s general lack of geographic knowledge, the port’s ability to attract inbound passengers is complicated by online travel sites such as Google Flights, Kayak and Expedia, which often fail to offer Oakland International Airport as an option, according to a study, which shipped through the Port of Oakland about a week ago.
“Updating the name to reflect the airports service area, the San Francisco East Bay Region, will allow more people to book travel through Oakland when they are looking to travel to San Francisco and the Bay Area,” says one of the research questions.
Then people are asked to rate that statement based on how compelling a reason it is to change the name.
Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao and City Council President Nikki Fortunato Bas did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but some social media users took to the Internet to voice their displeasure over a possible name change.
“I just got a text survey, with a bunch of questions asking if I (sic) would be OK to change the name of Oakland Intl. Airport to San Francisco East Bay Area Intl. Airport. (The reason given in the poll given that out- travelers from the area supposedly wouldn’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 adviser to Senator Nancy Skinner, D-Oakland, but said he posted the comment as a private individual.
To some, it seemed like salt in the fresh wounds Oakland received from the Raiders and likely losing the A’s to Las Vegas and the Warriors to San Francisco.
“This is outrageous. Now they even want to take Oakland’s airport. Who would even contemplate something so outrageous? Some really want to wipe Oakland off the map altogether,” wrote Elmano Gonsalves.
A port spokesperson said the rebranding process is still ongoing, will take a year, and any decision must be approved by the Oakland Board of Port Commissioners in public hearings.