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Regional Airport Planning

Regional Airport Planning Process

The Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) and MTC jointly prepare and update the Regional Airport System Planning Analysis (RASPA) under the direction of the Regional Airport Planning Committee (RAPC). RAPC is made up of elected officials from the three regional agencies and staff from the region's airports.

The purpose of the RASPA is to provide analysis and policy level guidance on aviation requirements for commercial and general aviation airports in the region. The Plan is considered by the airports and FAA during the course of preparing airport master plans and environmental documents for proposed airport improvements.

MTC uses the plan to guide decisions about surface transportation investments that provide access to airports. BCDC’s Bay Plan airport policies refer to the Regional Airport System Plan for guidance when evaluating proposals for airport improvements that would require Bay fill. The Bay Area Air Quality Management District will consider the aviation emission estimates in preparing federal and state air quality plans for meeting adopted air quality standards.

Regional Airport System Planning Analysis: 2011 Update

With projected growth in business and recreational travel, as well as with growth in the shipment of air cargo, Bay Area airports may face capacity issues in the future, possibly around 2020.

Current forecasts estimate that by 2035:

  • Bay Area air passengers will increase by 67%;
  • Air cargo will increase 92%; and
  • Business jet activity will increase by 56%.

In addition to forecasting future air traffic demand and capacity, the RASPA explored a number of different scenarios that can serve future traffic demand at the Bay Area airports. It evaluated the scenarios against seven specific goals:

  1. Reliable Runways – Can we reduce flight delays and passenger inconvenience?
  2. Healthy Economy – Can the region serve future aviation demand and support a healthy economy?
  3. Good Passenger Service – Can we provide better service to the region’s major air travel markets?
  4. Convenient Airports – Can we maintain or improve airport ground access time and costs?
  5. Climate Protection – Can we decrease Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions from aircraft and air passengers traveling to airports?
  6. Clean Air – Can we decrease air pollution from aircraft and air passengers traveling to airports?
  7. Livable Communities – Can we avoid increasing the regional population exposed to aircraft noise?

As is often the case, there were tradeoffs between the various goals that had to be accounted for when choosing between two alternate scenarios – Scenario A and Scenario B.

A key report finding was that demand for air travel at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is expected to exceed capacity by 2030, whereas Metropolitan Oakland International Airport (OAK) and Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC) are expected to have excess capacity. This finding, along with evaluation of each scenario against the above goals’ performance measures, led to RAPC’s recommendation to implement Scenario B. The key strategies recommended for Scenario B are as follows:

  • Significant redistribution of air passenger traffic from SFO to OAK and SJC;
  • Increased use of Sonoma County Airport to serve local air passenger demand;
  • New Air Traffic Control Technologies that have a high likelihood of implementation;
  • A robust Demand Management Program at SFO; and
  • High Speed Rail (HSR) initial segment from San Francisco to Orange County. (Scenario B could also meet regional aviation capacity needs if HSR is not implemented in the timeframe of the study.)

MTC oversaw the study with ABAG and BCDC, and in conjunction with RAPC, which includes the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, the Federal Aviation Administration, the San Francisco International Airport, the Oakland International Airport, the San Jose International Airport and Caltrans. The study was completed in 2011.

For more information:

MTC contact: Doug Kimsey,, 510.817.5790.