SFO travelers could save on international trips

Travelers looking to take a sun-drenched vacation in Cancun or a trip to the mountains near Vancouver might soon see some cheaper flights out of San Francisco International Airport.

In a bid to attract more international carriers, SFO officials are proposing to slash operating fees by about 33 percent for airlines flying to and from Mexico and Canada. Currently, carriers serving SFO from those two destinations pay $1,500 in operating fees, the same amount as flights from all other countries around the globe.

To strengthen its connections with the country’s bordering neighbors, SFO wants to charge domestic operating fees instead, which range from $450 to $580, according to airport documents.

“The idea is that the lower rates will bring in more competition to the airport, and that will hopefully lower prices for passengers,” said Michael McCarron, a spokesman for the airport.

Along with giving local passengers cheaper flights out of SFO, the competitive rates could attract more international travelers. According to Joe D’Alessandro of the San Francisco Travel Association, a local tourism organization, international visitors are crucial to The City’s economy.

“International tourists tend to stay longer, spend more money and visit more sights,” D’Alessandro said. “Anything we can do to provide more incentive for them to come here is huge for The City.”

Spokeswoman Angela Mah of Air Canada, which carries 56 daily flights out of San Francisco, would not comment on the fee proposal, although she indicated the new rate structure could be beneficial to customers.

The San Francisco Airport Commission will vote on the proposed fee structure at a meeting today.

Currently, the airport has three carriers providing about 150 daily flights to Canada, with most of the routes scheduled for Vancouver. Five different airlines travel to Mexico daily, running roughly 70 routes.


Border crossings

  • $1,500: Current operating fees for airlines traveling to and from Mexico and Canada
  • $450-$580: Proposed operating fees for those airlines
  • 147: Daily flights to and from Canada out of SFO
  • 72: Daily flights to and from Mexico out of SFO

Source: San Francisco International Airport

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