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American Will Use San Francisco’s Newest Concourse Next Year

Aug. 05, 2019
4 min read
American Will Use San Francisco’s Newest Concourse Next Year
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American Airlines will land in the new Harvey Milk Terminal 1 at San Francisco International Airport early next year.

The Oneworld Alliance carrier will move its schedule of up to 50 daily flights to the terminal when the next nine gates on Boarding Area B open around March 2020, according to a prospectus for San Francisco (SFO) airport’s next bond issue.

The new Boarding Area B at San Francisco Airport. (Photo courtesy of San Francisco Airport)
The new Boarding Area B at San Francisco Airport. (Photo courtesy of San Francisco Airport)

The move will allow American to consolidate flights in one concourse at SFO for the first time since it merged with US Airways in 2013. The airline currently operates from three gates in Boarding Area C and five in Boarding Area D, its website shows.

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“American Airlines shares SFO’s excitement for an increasingly modern and improved experience for both our customers and team members," American spokesman Curtis Blessing tells TPG. The airline will also open a new Admirals Club at SFO when it moves to the concourse.

The Harvey Milk terminal, named for the first openly gay elected official in California who was assassinated in 1978, and first nine gates of Boarding Area B opened in July. JetBlue Airways and Southwest Airlines are the initial tenants in the space.

Related: See JetBlue’s and Southwest’s New Gates at SFO’s Harvey Milk Terminal 1

American's move to Boarding Area B opens up space elsewhere at the busy airport. In Boarding Area D, Alaska Airlines uses the remaining 10 gates and is already jockeying for American's space there.

"San Francisco I believe is a crown jewel in the Virgin America achievement," said Alaska's chief commercial officer Andrew Harrison during its last investor day in November 2018. "American Airlines will be moving their operations out... [that] gives us ability... to continue our growth."

Alaska has been the second largest carrier at SFO since it acquired Virgin America in 2016. Last year, it carried 10% of the airport's 55.9 million passengers on an average of 135 daily flights, according to US Department of Transportation statistics and Diio by Cirium data.

United Airlines was the largest carrier at SFO with 44.3% of airport passengers in 2018, the data shows.

Related: An MD-80? The Truth Behind This Tiny American Airlines ‘Plane’ Parked at O’Hare

Alaska is unlikely to take over all of Boarding Area D next year. SFO spokesman Doug Yakel tells TPG that "a few different airlines" are likely use some or all of American's former gates after it moves out.

Delta Air Lines is a candidate for space in Boarding Area D, adds Yakel. Renovation work is scheduled to begin soon on Boarding Area C where the carrier currently operates all of its flights, potentially creating need for temporary space elsewhere at the airport.

SFO will face another round of airline moves when the final seven Boarding Area B gates open in late 2021, according to the prospectus. Those will bring the B-area boarding gate total to 25. But what airline lands where at that point is anyone's guess. Both Alaska and United want to grow at the airport but face gate limits in their respective facilities.

Featured image by An American A321 at San Francisco Airport. (Photo by Alberto Riva/TPG)