Release #09.042
August 5, 2009

Pilots Name Mineta San José International “Airport of the Year”

WASHINGTON—The Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA) has selected Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport as its “Airport of the Year” for 2008. Pilots lauded San Jose’s efforts to address pilot concerns throughout its ongoing, multiyear $1.3 billion airport modernization program, especially commending measures aimed at limiting the height of buildings surrounding the airport.

“As a downtown airport with limited space to expand, San Jose is taking the appropriate steps to ensure safe operations in the airspace beyond the airport boundaries,” said Capt. Rory Kay, ALPA’s Executive Air Safety Chairman. “Pilots appreciate the airport’s openness and cooperation in including them in the planning process.”

Shortly after ALPA’s first meeting with San Jose officials, the Association was asked to review a complex report by consultants on the issues of engine-out takeoff criteria for Runways 12L and 12R and the potential effects of high rise development in downtown San Jose.

With the help of ALPA’s Engineering and Air Safety Department, the airport revised its report to underscore the importance of limiting the height of new building construction to avoid potential safety hazards. The airport anticipates the revised report is likely to be presented to the San Jose City Council next year.

San Jose airport officials extended an open invitation to airline pilots to attend meetings not just on airport operations and safety, but also on long-term planning for the corporate/general aviation side of the airport and extensive terminal improvements, including current construction of its new passenger Terminal B.

“We were impressed that the airport sought our input and solicited comments from all the air carriers operating out of San Jose,” said Capt. Robert Perkins, chairman of ALPA’s Airport Ground Environment (AGE) group. “This spirit of teamwork and collaboration encourages us to feel that airline pilots can pick up the phone and call them with any concerns—safety or otherwise—and receive a prompt and thoughtful response.”

“Our strong partnership with pilots and carriers is essential to meeting our top priority commitment to safety of our passengers, aircraft, and community,” said Bill Sherry, San Jose airport director. “As we build our new airport for Silicon Valley, the active engagement of airline pilots has been especially valuable to help us plan and protect our investment for the future.”

Capt. John Prater, ALPA’s president, conferred the pilot-friendly “Airport of the Year” Award today during ALPA’s Air Safety Forum held this week in Washington, D.C.

ALPA’s AGE Group selects the Airport of the Year from nominations made by ALPA’s Regional Safety Chairmen and Airport Liaison Representatives (ALRs) who represent pilots’ interests at more than 200 commercial airports in the U.S. and Canada. Nominations range from small regional airports to some of the busiest airports in the world, but all nominees share a common commitment to the highest safety standards. San Jose was nominated by Hawaiian Airlines Capt. Reno Morella, who serves as the ALPA ALR for the airport.

Founded in 1931, ALPA is the world’s largest pilots union, representing nearly 54,000 pilots at 36 airlines in the United States and Canada.

Mineta San Jose International Airport is a self-supporting enterprise owned and operated by the city of San Jose. SJC served 9.7 million passengers in 2008 and currently has approximately 145 daily flights on 13 domestic and international carriers to 27 nonstop destinations. The airport is located in San Jose, the capital of Silicon Valley, California’s third largest city and the nation’s tenth largest city (population 1,007,000). For more airport information, visit

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Contact: Linda Shotwell or Rusty Ayers, 703/481-4440 or