Fresno Yosemite International Airport

FRESNO YOSEMITE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT tions domestically and internationally, or just the everyday operations themselves – it is a large airport in a smaller package.” Originally a military base, the Fresno Yosem- ite Airport came into being in 1947. Following World War II, the War Assets Administration trans- ferred the then-named Hammer Field to the City of Fresno. Then the City put in a terminal and moved all of the commercial airline services from a downtown general aviation airport over to this location. Now in its 70th year, FAT has grown well beyond the original United and TWA flights to become the major air hub for Central California, with a population of almost two million people, as well as the gateway to three of the nation’s most visited National Parks: Yosemite, Sequoia, and Kings Canyon. There is also the original, downtown Chandler Executive Airport in Fresno, also owned and operated by the City of Fresno, which operates both as a reliever airport and a hub for smaller general aviation aircraft. In addi- tion, there are a couple of aviation schools that operate on that location and it is seen as very complementary to the main airport. “We are 100 percent self-sufficient,” explains Meikle, “and because of our location, we really do not have any competition. The closest commercial air service airports to us would be San Jose, Sac- ramento, and San Francisco in Northern Califor- nia, and Los Angeles in Southern California. And we are far enough away from them that we really do capture the vast majority of the people who fly out of our region.When you talk about living room to gate time you are, literally, minutes and, certainly, within 30 minutes, of being here at the Fresno Airport, whereas if you drive to Northern or Southern California gateways, you are going to be five to six-plus hours by the time you get to your gate.” “I’d like to chime in on that,” interjects Dan Weber, the Assistant Director of Aviation. “Histori- cally, we probably lost more traffic to these other airports than we do today because, since the Great Recession, we have developed additional air service, larger aircraft, and so all-around better air service. And, I think, a lot of people who had previously driven to the other airports are coming to Fresno. So, it is a combination of taking advan- tage of our geographic location and capitalizing on it with better service.” “We commissioned an economic study of the area which confirmed that we were one of the major economic drivers for this region,” says Meikle. “The airports are responsible for $788 million in annual economic activity and 9,300 di- rect, induced, and indirect jobs. That is a big piece of what we represent to this region of California.” The Airport has experienced 36 percent growth