The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority was created on January 1, 2003, as an independent agency to manage the day-to-day operations of San Diego International Airport (SAN) and address the region's long-term air transportation needs.

The legislation that created the Airport Authority mandates three main responsibilities:

  • Operate San Diego International Airport
  • Plan for the future air transportation needs of the region
  • Serve as the region's Airport Land Use Commission and ensure the adoption of land-use plans that protect public health and safety surrounding all 16 of the county's airports

The Airport Authority is governed by an appointed Board of nine voting members with three additional non-voting (ex-officio) members who represent all areas of San Diego County. Three members serve as the Executive Committee. The Board regularly convenes on matters connected to its state-mandated mission.

Several standing committees of the Board hold regular public meetings to address key policy areas and develop items for consideration by the full Board. The committees are: Executive, Executive Personnel and Compensation, Finance, Audit and Capital Improvement Program Oversight.



In 2016, President/CEO Thella F. Bowens was responsible for management oversight of the Airport Authority, the annual budget and a staff of approximately 400 aviation professionals, nearly all of whom work on site at SAN. The Airport Authority Board Chair does not serve as an executive officer within the organization's management.

During the reporting period there have been no significant changes regarding the size, structure or ownership of the Airport Authority or SAN.

Our Organizational Values
  • We recognize the needs of our customers come first.
  • We pursue excellence in all our business processes.
  • We conduct our affairs with honesty and integrity.
  • We provide a safe, secure, quality-oriented, highly efficient environment.
  • We foster an informed, productive, diverse, enthusiastic work force.
  • We believe that continuous learning and personal involvement are job responsibilities.
  • We believe that everyone counts and we count on everyone.
Our Organizational Vision

Mastering the Art of Airports

Positive influence

We are also committed to positively influencing the broader aviation industry. Airport Authority officials lead and participate in numerous committees and working groups for the Airports Council International – North America, American Association of Airport Executives, and the California Airports Council. Further, we have tried to align our goals and initiatives with others across the industry, whenever possible.

Many of the topics covered in our sustainability report are subject to rapidly evolving regulatory guidance, science and inherent levels of uncertainty. However, the airport follows the precautionary approach of using best available information at the time to take proactive action to improve social well-being, avoid environmental degradation, and strengthen our economic vitality.


Since 1928, SAN has served the air transportation needs of the San Diego region. The airport's total operation occupies 661 acres just two miles northwest of San Diego's thriving downtown. Its location on Harbor Drive is roughly bounded by Pacific Highway to the east, Liberty Station to the west, Marine Corps Recruit Depot to the north and San Diego Bay to the south. The airport has a single primary runway, which is 9,401 feet long. On average, 50,000 passengers a day pass through the airport, which accommodates more than 500 daily arrivals and departures, the vast majority of which are for passenger service. The airport's catchment area includes a large swath of Southern California and extends into northern Mexico.

In 2016, 16 passenger carriers and three cargo carriers served the airport, which had 51 gates for jet aircraft in Terminals 1 and 2. Southwest Airlines, the largest carrier, accounted for nearly 38 percent of the passenger volume.

The airport in 2016 offered nonstop service to 60 destinations (note that some cities have more than one airport served), including:

Our Reporting

The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority has consulted the Global Reporting Initiative's (GRI) G4 guidelines in the production of this report. The index lists the economic, environmental and social criteria that the GRI guidelines suggest, as well as certain specific criteria from the GRI Airport Operators Sector Supplement. The report was developed in accordance with the GRI G4's “Core” standards and covers the Calendar Year 2016 reporting period. However, some information is presented based on fiscal years to align with the relevant data's native format. San Diego International Airport releases updated sustainability reports on a yearly basis. Any changes or re-statements from previous reports are noted in the applicable data table. This Sustainability Report has not been externally assured.

Our Boundaries

The Airport Authority's boundaries for the purposes of this Sustainability Report encompass the organization's geographic jurisdiction (San Diego County) as determined by state law, as well as entities over which the Airport Authority exercises control or significant influence, both in and through its relationships with various entities. A summary of these boundaries follows.


The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority exercises control over San Diego International Airport.

Significant Influence

The Airport Authority has significant influence over:

  • Airport Authority collective bargaining unit (union)
  • Airport retail tenants
  • Airport airline tenants
  • Airport cargo carrier tenants
  • Parking management service
  • Airport ground transportation service providers
  • Harbor Police Department
  • Aircraft rescue and firefighting/San Diego Fire-Rescue Department
  • On-site services (e.g., janitorial, security)
  • Contractor and consultant services (e.g., construction, engineering, environmental, maintenance)

For more information on the content of this report, please contact Brendan Reed, Environmental Affairs Director,