German national carrier, Lufthansa is to introduce a new regular link to San José in California from spring next year. Flight schedules for a new five times weekly link from Frankfurt have already been loaded into the GDS for launch in late April 2016, just a week before British Airways launches its new London - San José operation. A formal announcement was due on October 17, 2015, but was brought forward by 24 hours after news of the new service spread.
Details of the planned new long-haul service were revealed by our Airline Route blog platform on the morning of October 15, 2015 after the flights appeared in the flight information section of the GDS. The route will initially be operated by a mainline Airbus A340-300 with 279 seats (30 Business Class, 28 Premium Economy and 221 Economy seats) but will switch to its Cityline operation from June 30, 2016 using a 298-seat variant of the four-engined jet (18 Business Class, 19 Premium Economy and 261 Economy seats).
It was subsequently confirmed by San José Mayo Mayor, Sam Liccardo who spoke on the airline's anticipated arrival. "It didn’t take a hard sell, because Lufthansa officials clearly understood the value proposition of connecting to San José and Silicon Valley," he told the Silicon Valley Business Journal.
The new Lufthansa flight is scheduled to launch on April 29, 2016, just days before British Airways adds its own transatlantic link to Norman Y. Mineta San José International Airport. The UK carrier will launch a daily flight from its London Heathrow hub on May 4, 2016 using its new Boeing 787-9s. Both British Airways and Lufthansa believe there is sufficient demand in both premium and leisure markets to/from San José to complement their existing operations to San Francisco.
“Mineta San José International Airport continues to be the airport of choice for global technology companies located throughout the Silicon Valley, and adding nonstop service between Frankfurt and San José has been a top priority for the business community for many years,” explained Mayor Sam Liccardo after the official announcement of the new route. “Lufthansa’s decision to launch service out of San José will be well received by both business and leisure travellers."
Frankfurt had been identified as a priority travel route for the greater San José region that has significant business and personal links to Germany, Europe and beyond. Silicon Valley companies have 324 locations throughout Germany. Nearly all major car manufacturers have R&D facilities in Silicon Valley, among them being BMW, Mercedes Benz and Volkswagen. Nonstop service to and through Frankfurt offers the opportunity to enhance business and improve travel efficiency.
“The addition of Frankfurt service to Mineta San Jose International Airport’s growing list of international destinations is welcome news for Silicon Valley travelers,” said Kim Becker, Director of Aviation of the airport. “Lufthansa’s premium non-stop service from San Jose to Germany, Europe, Asia, India and Africa brings the world to our doorstep through Silicon Valley’s airport which offers easy access, on-time flights and technologically advanced facilities and customer services.”
Norman Y. Mineta San José International Airport is located in one of the world’s technology centres and has been rising from the shadow of the larger San Francisco International Airport, located just 30 miles to the northwest. Despite being the largest city in the Bay Area, the airport is the smallest of the three Bay Area commercial facilities in terms of total traffic carrying 9.4 million passengers in 2014.
San José is proving increasingly popular with the world’s airlines as a gateway to Silicon Valley and Northern California. It has a catchment population close to four million and has thousands of Silicon Valley companies with global operations. These business links are complement by its proximity to some of California’s leading tourist destinations, including Monterey, Carmel, Pebble Beach, Santa Cruz, Big Sur, Yosemite National Park, and its wine country.
San José is the 10th largest city in the United States with a population of around one million with around 40 per cent of this population foreign-born, driving additional air demand. The city has added 54,000 new residents since 2006 and is projected to have a population of over 1.2 million by 2025. Data shows that San José’s median household income of nearly $83,944 is one of the highest in the US and 38 per cent of households have incomes exceeding $100,000.
The city has experienced the greatest change of any large US city during the past 50 years – rapid population growth and an economic transformation from agriculture to high technology. Today, San José is the largest city in Northern California and Silicon Valley’s urban centre.
It was ranked 20th in the US in the number of overseas visitors in 2010, despite at the time not having non-stop Asia and Europe air service and ranked higher in international visitors – particularly business travellers - than several US cities having direct flights to these regions, something that has caught the attention of international airlines.
The new Lufthansa link will be the third new long-haul route it has announced in 2015 adding to the Hainan Airlines service to Beijing that started in June 2015 and new British Airways link to London. The airport has also added new domestic link with Southwest Airlines to Dallas Love Field in April 2015, while Alaska Airlines will add a service to Eugene, Oregon from November 5, 2015.
Our analysis of OAG Schedules Analyser data shows that departure capacity from Norman Y. Mineta San José International Airport has grown in each of the past two years (6.4 per cent in 2013 and 3.3 per cent in 2014) and is set to increase again in 2015 (up 2.6 per cent, based on published schedules). This follows a notable decline between 2008 and 2010 when the airport lost around a quarter of its capacity over the three year period.
The recent growth has been driven by international capacity growth with the international market in 2014 accounting for 3.5 per cent of total departure seats, up from just 1.3 per cent in 2009 – this will grow to over four per cent this year. International capacity almost doubled between 2011 and 2014 and is forecasted to grow 20.3 per cent in 2015.
The arrival of British Airways and Lufthansa in 2016 will put San José on the European network map. According to Sabre Airport Data Intelligence demand statistics, an estimated 23,000 bi-directional O&D passengers flew between points in Europe and Norman Y. Mineta San José International Airport in 2014 with the strongest demand from/to the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands. The largest individual origin and destination markets for passengers were London Heathrow, Paris Charles de Gaulle, Amsterdam, Madrid and Rome: Frankfurt was the sixth largest market.