We promote equality, diversity, connectedness, and a good quality of life for our employees and the community at-large. Our organization strives to exceed our customers’ expectations by introducing innovative service and facility enhancements. We aim to achieve the highest level of internal and external customer satisfaction. We also strive to develop leaders and a workforce aligned that reflects the diversity of our community and assure the highest level of commitment and productivity. The airport endeavors to be a responsive member of the community, working with surrounding neighborhoods and key groups to address the impacts from aircraft noise, traffic congestion, and other impacts.

Focusing on the Customer Experience

  • Define and deliver a seamless, unique, consistent airport and product experience (Organizational Strategic Plan Initiative, Customer Strategy)
  • Further develop arts and cultural programming through strategic community partnerships that expand awareness (Organizational Strategic Plan Initiative, Community Strategy)

When the COVID-19 pandemic was declared, San Diego International Airport (SAN) was quick to implement health and safety measures outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and county and state health departments. SAN’s “Let’s Go Safely” program implemented enhanced health and safety measures throughout the airport campus that included increased cleaning of high touchpoint surfaces, electrostatic spraying, signage on preventive health measures, social distancing markers, hand sanitizer stations, sneeze guards in certain public spaces, and a face-mask requirement on all airport property.


Percent of air handlers contain ultraviolet light to kill bacteria and viruses.

All air-handling systems at SAN are designed to meet the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) standards for ventilation for indoor air quality. Our systems meet or exceed industry filtration standards, meaning we filter the air at a recommended level between “Superior Commercial Buildings” and “Hospital Inpatient Care.” Additionally, 60 percent of air handlers installed in the airport contain ultraviolet light which provides extra protection to kill bacteria and viruses.

In October 2020, SAN achieved Airports Council International’s Airport Health Accreditation which provides third-party verification and recognition of professional excellence in maintaining safe, hygienic facilities and promoting best practices that align with efforts across the aviation industry. SAN was one of the first eight U.S. airports to achieve this accreditation.

Ambassadors and Therapy Dogs Return to Their Helpful Roles

During COVID, SAN’s volunteer Airport Ambassadors program was put on hold for safety reasons. The Ambassadors staff the information desks in the terminals and provide warm, friendly assistance to the traveling public as needed.

After being away for more than a year, these front-line customer-facing volunteers returned last spring. It was one of the first tangible signs of recovery at the airport and a welcome sight!

Some of the Ambassadors are part of the Ready Pet Go! dog therapy teams, who bring their highly trained dogs to the airport to offer stress relief and comfort to passengers. Passengers said they missed the wagging tails and friendly, positive experience provided by the dogs. It was a joyous reunion for all when they finally returned to work!

The Airport Authority wishes to thank all the volunteer Airport Ambassadors and their faithful canine companions who stuck with us and returned to help enhance the passenger experience at SAN.

During Stressful Times, Airport Traffic Officers Provide Relief

The Airport Traffic Officers’ job is far more than simply directing traffic. They are often the first point of contact at the airport, providing critical information and assistance to help travelers complete their journey. This role took on even greater importance during the COVID-19 pandemic, when the airport’s volunteer Airport Ambassadors were forced to stop working for safety reasons.

Over the course of the pandemic, these officers were recognized numerous times by the Airport Authority for acts of kindness above and beyond their typical job description. In one case, an officer noticed a family of six, including four young children, struggling to arrange transportation to a nearby hotel after their flight was canceled. With only one taxi voucher, there were too many of them to fit in one vehicle. The officer searched for a taxi driver who would accept the voucher, put three of the family members in that vehicle; then got on her phone and hired a Lyft for the remaining family members.

Airport Traffic Officers take pride in providing exceptional customer service and countless deeds of goodwill daily.

SAN Launches Under the Wing Mentorship Program

SAN’s internationally recognized Arts program enhances the customer experience by providing evocative artworks that are accessible, entertaining, and enriching. It also plays a role in upholding the civic and community impact of SAN with a focus that extends beyond the airport’s campus.

The Arts program found innovative ways to continue to connect its exhibitions and artists to the community throughout the pandemic. In June 2021, the SAN Arts Program launched the Under the Wing mentorship program, a professional development opportunity for emerging and mid-career artists to gain knowledge of the public art process from concept through installation. Noted as the first of its kind in an airport art program, the Under the Wing mentorship program will conclude when the large-scale public art project is commissioned for the planned New T1 ticketing lobby.

Kaori Fukuyama, a San Diego-based multi-disciplinary artist, was selected to participate in the new program and supports selected mentor artist Nova Jiang, who has been commissioned to create a permanent public artwork at SAN as part of the planned New T1 program. One of the program’s central goals is to support an aspiring public artist in launching a successful career in this challenging field.

Data Chart(s)

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SAN will continue to monitor and follow all federal, state, and local mandates to ensure the health and safety of our customers, visitors, employees, tenants, and contractors.

Employee Diversity, Recruitment, Retention, and Training

  • Determine innovative, flexible organizational staffing needs that reflect the ADP and capital program (Organizational Strategic Plan Initiative, Employee Strategy)
  • Attract a new generation of diverse employees and leaders (Organizational Strategic Plan Initiative, Employee Strategy)
  • Develop compensation and benefits programs for a multi-generational workforce that recognize individual strategic contributions (Organizational Strategic Plan Initiative, Employee Strategy)
  • Create an effective succession and transition plan for ongoing leadership changes (Organizational Strategic Plan Initiative, Employee Strategy)
  • Develop leaders to be better coaches who enable independent decision making (Organizational Strategic Plan Initiative, Employee Strategy)
  • Train and develop business driven, agile and collaborative capabilities (Organizational Strategic Plan Initiative, Employee Strategy)


Percent of the Authority’s 400-person workforce continued to report to work at the airport during the pandemic; the other half telecommuted

Throughout the pandemic, the Airport Authority worked hard to accommodate the vastly different needs of a workforce that suddenly pivoted to working modified shifts in the terminals and/or working remotely.

The Airport Authority’s Information & Technology Services Department, with the support of the Talent, Culture, and Capability team, developed and launched in the space of one week a telecommuting program that under normal circumstances would have taken months to develop. A cross-departmental team created a Telecommuting Technology User Guide, made internal software applications accessible from the web, reprogrammed mobile computers for employees to use remotely, and deployed and trained staff on the user guide.

Approximately half of the 400-person workforce continued to report onsite because their jobs are critical to daily airport operations. These workers wore masks, achieved social distancing by reducing numbers of workers on a team, and implemented increased cleaning procedures – all while maintaining the highest standards of customer service.

For employees working offsite, efforts were made to sustain normal business practices and increase efficiency. The Airport Authority adopted the use of electronic signatures, decreasing the number of documents requiring printing by 50 percent and significantly minimized paper and toner consumption.

To help keep employees connected, Communications staff launched an internal newsletter, SAN Updates.  SAN Updates delivered timely information on campaigns and developments at the airport, COVID-19 health and safety resources, as well as opportunities for employee engagement through virtual projects that benefit the community.

To further engage and connect employees, the Authority’s leadership team pivoted its quarterly all-hands meeting, SAN Live, to a virtual format. A cross-departmental team worked together to host and deliver SAN Live during day and evening times to coincide with all work shifts.

Focusing on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Diversity, equity, and inclusion amongst our employees is not simply recognized at the Airport Authority, it is woven into our culture. To further our efforts across the workforce, the Airport Authority formed an Employee Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee in 2021. The goal of this committee is to foster an informed, productive, diverse, and enthusiastic workforce. Its mission is to build an inclusive culture at the Airport Authority that attracts, engages, and promotes employees of diverse backgrounds to reach their full potential. The Employee DEI Committee is open to employees across all departments at the Airport Authority.

Data Chart(s)

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In 2021, the Airport Authority is developing a plan to have telecommuting employees return to the office.

Our Regional & Industry Leadership

  • Provide regional and industry leadership in climate change solutions, climate resilience, zero waste, wildlife compatibility and biodiversity in an urban airport setting (Sustainability Management Program)
  • Promote and Support Use of Public Transit – Provide regional leadership, collaboration, and infrastructure to increase use of public transit and other sustainable methods of transportation (Sustainability Management Program, Clean Transportation Plan)


“Virtual” neighborhood clean-up events in which the Authority participated in 2020

The Airport Authority also participated in California Clean Air Day and Energy Efficiency Day, both on October 7. Along with thousands of Californians, Authority employees celebrated California Clean Air Day by taking a pledge to do something simple, such as walking or biking rather than driving, to improve regional air quality. We supported Energy Efficiency Day with our existing Strategic Energy Plan initiatives that collectively reduce the daily peak electricity demand and lower utility costs.

The Airport Authority Board, which serves as the region’s Airport Land Use Commission, completed an Airport Land Use Compatibility Plan (ALUCP) for Naval Air Station North Island in 2020. The plan, which was adopted during a hearing on October 1, 2020, was the final one for the 16 public use and military airports in San Diego County and helps to ensure that noise and safety considerations are included for any future development projects in the surrounding areas.

The Airport Authority’s annual United Way Workplace Giving Campaign looked a bit different in 2020, with all events and activities held in a virtual format for the first time. All told, Authority employees raised more than $41,000 to donate to the United Way.

The awards that the Airport Authority received in 2020 further define our role as a leader. In October, the airport received the prestigious Airports Council International World’s Airport Health Accreditation for our excellence in maintaining safe, hygienic facilities and promoting best practices that align with efforts across the aviation industry.

The Airport Authority was also honored in 2020 with the Airports Council International-North America Environmental Achievement Award in outreach, education, and communication for our Airport Development Plan’s comprehensive and collaborative outreach efforts.

Despite the pandemic, the Airport Authority continued to demonstrate regional and aviation industry leadership in numerous ways in 2020. These efforts covered a range of environmental, economic, and social endeavors that involved collaboration with our neighbors, stakeholders, and key regional partners.

Efforts to keep our communities clean did not take a break during the pandemic. The Airport Authority has been a longtime partner of I Love a Clean San Diego in helping prevent debris from entering our San Diego Bay.

In 2020, Airport Authority employees participated in two different “virtual” clean-ups: Creek to Bay Cleanup on June 20 and Coastal Cleanup on September 26. In pivoting to the virtual format, the Airport Authority employees shifted from participating in a clean-up site near the airport in a large group to conducting individual neighborhood cleanups across the county.

Innovation Lab Looks at Health and Safety

The pandemic forced a deep-dive look into how we can help passengers and staff safely move through airports. In 2021, five companies are testing solutions to enhance passenger health and safety through contactless airport experience or queue management were accepted in the Airport Innovation Lab’s fifth cohort. The Airport Innovation Lab operates a 16-week accelerator program to test and refine solutions and reduce barriers for innovators to break into the aviation industry.

Annually, SAN promotes and participates in programs and events that further enhance our position as a regional economic engine, as well as a leader in sustainability. This coming year, we expect to host events to engage employees in sustainable practices and provide education about minimizing our impact on the environment. Our program experts also speak at local and national conferences spreading awareness about SAN’s programs and upcoming projects. We are honored with awards that we have won which establish a benchmark within our industry and showcases our programs. On average, we nominate Airport Authority programs and individuals for more than a dozen award programs each year.

Additional Social Key Performance Indicators

Data Chart(s)

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