Oakland, San Jose soar closer to pre-COVID passenger activity

SAN JOSE, CA - November 23: Travelers walk inside Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport on Tuesday, Nov.  23, 2021, in San Jose, Calif.  (Dai Sugano / Bay Area News Group)
Travelers at San Jose International Airport, November 2021.

SAN JOSE – Both Oakland and San Jose airports have experienced a big surge in passenger traffic in recent months this year but travel activity remains well below the levels prior to the outbreak of the coronavirus.

The economic diseases unleashed by the coronavirus also have ushered in a distinct role reversal for the airports that serve Silicon Valley and the East Bay, respectively: Over the most recent one-year period, Oakland was a busier passenger airport than San Jose, according to this news organization’s analysis of statistics released by the two airports.

During the 12 months that ended in April, Oakland airport accommodated 9.49 million passengers while San Jose airport handled 9.08 million passengers. In the most recent one-year period, San Jose airport handled 4.4% fewer passengers than Oakland’s airport.

That’s a sharp difference from the trends prior to the outbreak of the coronavirus and the onset of government-mandated business shutdowns to combat the spread of the deadly bug.

Over the 12 months that ended in February 2020 – the last full-year period before the coronavirus-linked lockdowns began – San Jose handled 15.81 million passengers, which was 18.9% higher than Oakland’s passenger activity of 13.29 million passengers.

Although both airports generated hefty increases in passenger activity during the first four months of 2022, both aviation hubs have a long way to go before they regain their pre-COVID activity on a consistent basis.

Over the most recent one-year period, San Jose’s passenger totals were 42.6% below the pre-coronavirus 12 months, while Oakland’s passenger totals were 28.6% lower, the analysis of numerous monthly reports by the two airports shows.

Still, tidbits from the monthly aviation reports issued by the Oakland and San Jose airports point to noticeable signs of recovery for both transportation hubs.

During April, San Jose airport handled slightly more than 972,600 passengers – 109% more than the passengers the airport accommodated in April 2021 – while Oakland airport handled just over 918,500 passengers, a 53.8% increase from the same month the year before.

Last month marked the first time either Oakland or San Jose have managed to handle at least 900,000 passengers during a single month since the start of business shutdowns in March 2020.

And over the most recent three months, from February through April, both the Oakland and San Jose airports have posted increases in monthly passenger activity.

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