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San Francisco Airport Threatens to Sue Oakland Airport if it Pushes Ahead With Name Change

San Francisco Airport Threatens to Sue Oakland Airport if it Pushes Ahead With Name Change

a city with many buildings and a body of water

San Francisco International Airport is now threatening to sue neighbouring Oakland International Airport if the much smaller airfield pushes ahead with a name change that is meant to ‘boost’ awareness amongst passengers of where the airport actually is.

Currently, Oakland is officially called Metropolitan Oakland International Airport (OAK), but late last month, the Port of Oakland announced that it was seriously considering renaming the airport as San Francisco Bay Oakland International Airport.

Port officials fear that OAK is currently losing out on traffic because passengers simply don’t fully understand where the airport is geographically located – it is, in fact, just 11 miles as the crow flies from San Francisco Airport across the San Francisco Bay and the closest airport to nearly 60 percent of the Bay Area’s residents.

The name change has won support from some of OAK’s biggest airline customers, including Southwest Airlines, Spirit and Mexican low-cost airline Volaris, arguing that a more “relevant and contemporary naming convention” would boost visibility amongst air travelers looking for flights to the Bay area.

The Port Commissioners are due to consider the name change in just a couple of days, but in the run-up to the crunch Port Board meeting on April 11, rival airport San Francisco International (SFO) has threatened potential legal action if OAK goes ahead with the name change.

The Port of San Francisco didn’t waste any time in criticizing OAK’s name change proposal, but officials are now ramping up the rhetoric, saying that they’ll go to court if necessary to try to stop Oakland from adding San Francisco Bay to its name.

“We’re hoping that Oakland will figure out an acceptable name that works for Oakland but that doesn’t infringe on our trademark rights,” commented San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu.

“From our perspective, litigation is the last resort, and we hope to avoid it, but we will resort to it if we are forced to,” Chiu continued earlier this week.

Along with a potential trademark issue, SFO has urged OAK not to add San Francisco to its name because, it argues, customers could become confused. That’s an argument that OAK has roundly rejected, claiming if anything, the name change will help clear up confusion.

As it stands, port authorities believe half of frequent international travelers and nearly one-third of domestic travelers don’t actually realize that OAK is located in the San Francisco Bay Area.

View Comment (1)
  • The problem is that the word “Oakland” is associated with African Americans and crime. If they want a better name, dump Oakland. Samual Merritt was a prominent Oakland resident. He was a doctor and one of the founding regents of the University of California, Berkeley. He donated land to the city by Lake Merritt. So call the airport San Francisco Merritt Airport versus San Francisco International Airport. That is ok.

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