Oakland's airport considers adding 'San Francisco' to its name. San Francisco isn't happy about it

SAN FRANCISCO — The Oakland International Airport may add “San Francisco” to it’s name to attract more passengers, but its neighbors across the Bay have slammed the possible rebrand.

The Board of Commissioners for the Port of Oakland will take up the question at its meeting on Thursday.

Oakland airport officials say travelers unfamiliar with the region fly into San Francisco’s airport even if their destination is closer to the East Bay airport. Modifying the name to San Francisco Bay Oakland International Airport will change that, they say. The airport’s three-letter code OAK would not change.

“Market research and interviews with airline partners have shown that routes have not performed as well as they should have due to the lack of geographic awareness, making air carriers reluctant to sustain and add new routes in Oakland,” said Craig Simon, the Port of Oakland’s interim aviation director, in a statement.

He said the airport, officially known as the Metropolitan Oakland International Airport, lost 39 of 54 new routes added from July 2008 to March 2024.

But the possibility of a name-change has horrified San Francisco officials, who say it will confuse travelers, especially those flying in from abroad. Ivar C. Satero, director of San Francisco’s airport, said they are “deeply concerned” over the potential for customer confusion and disservice. San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu on Tuesday threatened to sue Oakland officials if they pursue the name-change, arguing it would violate the city’s trademark on “San Francisco International Airport.”

San Francisco “has held these registrations for such a long time that they have become incontestable under federal law,” Chiu wrote in a letter to various Oakland officials.

“Consumers will either misunderstand Oakland International Airport’s physical location (i.e., that it’s in San Francisco rather than Oakland) or mistakenly believe that there is a formal relationship or connection between the two airports that does not exist,” he added.

Aaron Peskin, president of San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors, introduced a resolution last week opposing the name-change and requesting the port commission reject it.

State Sen. Scott Wiener, who represents San Francisco, said on X that the airport shouldn’t be “cutting & pasting” San Francisco’s name.

“I love Oakland, but Oakland is Oakland. It’s not San Francisco,” he wrote. “Please find another way to turn things around.”

But other users on X pointed out that San Francisco’s airport is actually located in Millbrae, a city in San Mateo County.

One person quipped, “When are we renaming the 49ers? #SantaClara.” The San Francisco 49ers play at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, which sits just outside San Jose and is about 45 miles south of San Francisco.

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