Oakland airport anticipates passenger decline for 2008
• Oakland port faces $18.6 million budget shortfall, plans staff cuts
Oakland International Airport sees a dramatic downturn in its projected fortunes, due to high fuel costs and the downturn in the national economy.
The airport is expected to post a 20 percent decline in passenger traffic, the second-worst projected loss in the nation according to the Official Airline Guide (OAG). Oakland is expected come in just under Kansas City's projected 15.9 percent decline for 2008 and Honolulu's 22.9 percent drop for the year by OAG. The estimate would see Oakland passenger traffic drop to 11.7 million compared to more than 14.6 million passengers in 2007.
The airport is governed by the Port of Oakland, which plans to cut nearly 10 percent of its workforce due to budget woes at the airport, maritime port and commercial real estate at Jack London Square.
The OAG prediction follows Oakland airport's loss of three airlines to bankruptcy five weeks ago. Aloha Air, ATA and Skybus all shuttered their Oakland airport doors within the same week. American Airlines subsequently said it would be leaving Oakland in September after 60 years of operating at the airport.
Last week, California-Pacific Connection reported that the Port of Oakland was facing an $18.6 million budget shortfall and is planning to cut 60 to 70 positions of its 600-strong workforce. Port officials cited a decline in imports, heavy debt and increase expense of environmental programs for the shortfall.
'We’ve done a lot of different things already to reduce our expenses,' Port of Oakland spokeswoman Marilyn Sandifur told the ABC news affiliate in Oakland, 'but unfortunately it's not enough to avoid layoffs. So even though it’s not something we want to do it’s something that we’re going to have to do.”
As part of a cost-cutting plan, the airport will scale back on the renovation and retrofitting schedule for developing Terminal Two, while at the same time shelving plans for a third terminal.
'A few years ago forecasts clearly showed Oakland Airport would continue to grow and that we needed to continue to grow capacity. Those forecasts have changed,” said Rosemary Barnes from the Oakland airport.
Final financial decisions, including the budget for the airport, are set to be made by port officials in mid-July.