Of the 24 million passengers in 2018, more than 1 million were international passengers – a 19 percent increase over 2017. The growth in international flights is especially impactful. International flights provide San Diego with access to global markets. It means our businesses can fly to other parts of the globe to conduct business there, but it also means people from there will come to San Diego and establish businesses here.


Business and leisure visitors spend money while visiting the region, thereby helping support additional economic growth. According to the San Diego Tourism Authority, visitors arriving by air spend an average of $835 per person per trip. In 2017, it is estimated that more than 5.9 million visitors to the region spent nearly $5 billion in the regional economy.

A comprehensive Economic Impact Study in 2018 analyzed and quantified SAN’s key contributions to the region. The study highlights the airport’s role as more than simply a vital transportation resource for the San Diego region. It firmly establishes SAN as a major economic driver and job creator. As such, the airport is constantly looking at ways to improve the passenger experience and help the region become increasingly global.

The study measured the direct and indirect economic impacts generated by SAN, comparing 2017 data from the U.S. Department of Transportation, San Diego Tourism Authority, Airport Authority and on-airport tenants.

The overall economic impact figure is expected to grow once SAN completes the Airport Development Plan, which envisions the replacement of the aging and cramped Terminal 1 with a more modern and efficient facility, along with related access enhancements and airfield improvements.

Total employment supported by the airport has increased by 31 percent over the past five years. In 2017, nearly 118,000 residents in the region were employed directly or indirectly due to the activities at SAN, generating nearly $3.9 billion in total annual payroll. Of total employment in San Diego County, SAN supports 5.7 percent of people employed in the region.

The full Economic Impact Study is available here.

Creating Opportunities for Small & Local Businesses: 2018 Snapshot

SAN’s Small Business Department met and exceeded its goals exceeded the past year while creating new and innovative ways to engage with small and local businesses, and the general public.

The department exceeded its Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBEs) goal of 8.4 percent, achieving 8.59 percent. It also exceeded its Airport Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program (ACDBE) goal of 19.1 percent, achieving 23.9 percent. Overall, the proportion of Airport Authority spending on local suppliers and services exceeded $181 million, which represents an increase over the previous year.

The department also launched a podcast, “Business of Flight,” to take a closer at everything from the business of building a better airport to our commitment to working with small, local, and underrepresented companies in our region. This year also brought an increased participation for the Meet the Primes event, as well as the Veteran’s Appreciation Luncheon.

181 Million

Spent On Local Suppliers & Services
Even with the many outreach events, prime contractors can still further diversify their use of subcontractors and suppliers, which offers important business opportunities for small and local enterprises.
In 2019, a new local business enterprise directory will be created to aggregate local businesses and help them identify ways to work with SAN.
Quieter Home Program Closing in on 4,000 Homes Served: 2018 Snapshot

The Airport Authority’s Quieter Home Program took some significant strides forward in 2018. The program helps address aircraft noise in surrounding communities by providing sound attenuation treatment (windows, doors, & ventilation) to affected residences.

In 2018, the Quieter Home Program received $12 million in FAA grant funding to support the airport's residential sound insulation efforts. Since its inception, the Quieter Home Program has retrofitted over 3,800 single-family and multi-family residences immediately east and west of the airport.


Quieter Home Program Retrofitted Homes

The airport, while conveniently close to the city’s urban center, is also near some of San Diego’s oldest and most established residential neighborhoods. One of the biggest challenges for the Airport Authority is to meet the region’s growing demand for air travel, while helping minimize the impacts of noise on our neighbors.

The Airport Authority’s Noise Office will continue working with the FAA and the community to ensure the Quieter Home Program meets the needs of as many residents as possible.

Noise Office Launches Innovative App and Takes Deeper Dive into Noise Studies: 2018 Snapshot

In 2018, the Airport Authority’s Noise Office addressed ongoing community concerns by initiating two major studies while also using new technologies to help solve noise issues.

The office kicked off a formal Part 150 Study Update funded by a $1.35 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Part 150 is a voluntary study that airports can undertake to review existing and future aircraft noise exposure and develop noise mitigation and abatement measures to reduce aircraft noise impacts.

To address ongoing concerns from communities that are reportedly hearing more aircraft noise outside the Part 150 Study area, the Airport Authority also started a Flight Procedures Analysis to review potential modifications to air traffic movements. This analysis, as well as the Part 150 Study, are being informed by both a Technical Advisory Committee and a Citizens Advisory Committee.

Finally, the Airport Authority’s Noise Office also upgraded its Airport Noise and Operations Monitoring System (ANOMS), which collects FAA radar, noise complaint, and noise event data. With this upgrade, the Noise Office also launched a suite of noise complaint tools, including an app, website, and a clicker for communities near the airport.

Despite numerous programs and policies to address aircraft noise, the number of people living in areas impacted by noise is estimated to have increased by approximately 12 percent in 2018 due to the increase in air operations. It should be noted that this year-over-year increase may also have been influenced by the Airport Authority using a new noise modeling tool in 2018, as required by the FAA, that utilizes different flight path, aircraft performance, and local weather assumptions.

The Airport Authority’s Noise Office will continue working on the Part 150 Study Update and the Flight Procedures Analysis. The Noise Office plans on holding more community workshops to inform members of the public about flights and how they can use the suite of noise complaint tools.

Regulatory Compliance a Key Focus at SAN: 2018 Snapshot

Assessments, evaluations and inspections —including surprise inspections – are part of the routine at any busy airport. They’re necessary to ensure we’re complying with all federal, state and local regulations to ensure efficient and effective airport operations.

Examples of inspections that occurred in 2018 include:

  • In August, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) conducted inspections of the airfield, inspecting potable water areas, water cabinets, availability of handwashing facilities, and the waste collection areas. While there were no violations noted, the FDA provided a few recommendations that have since been implemented by the Airport Authority.
  • In October and November, the San Diego Fire Department Combustible, Explosive, Dangerous Material Department (CEDMAT) conducted inspections of airlines and tenants that have combustibles, explosive, or dangerous materials on site. The City Fire Marshall issued 51 operational permits for ground support equipment repairs that include: cutting and welding, storage or liquid propane, compressed gas, and hazardous materials. No citations were issued, and the Airport Authority successfully passed the inspection.
  • In December, the San Diego Air Pollution Control District (APCD) conducted an inspection of the airport. The APCD Inspector visited SAN’s permitted emergency generators and a boiler at the Central Utility Plant in order to review monthly operating logs, annual major maintenance reports, and fueling records for the past two calendar years. The Inspector also assessed certain Airport Authority fleet vehicles for compliance with off-road equipment emissions regulations. The Airport Authority successfully passed all the inspections.

In 2017, the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB) conducted an audit on the Airport Authority’s over-irrigation prevention program and found it was not robust enough to avoid over-irrigation activities. While the Airport Authority quickly implemented new program elements and improved over-irrigation monitoring at SAN, the RWQCB issued a Notice of Violation, which has been resolved.

The Airport Authority continues to manage its robust industrial stormwater inspection program, ensuring all tenants and operators onsite comply with stormwater regulations and embrace best practices.