San Bernardino International Airport is less than a month away from welcoming commercial travelers for the first time, and in preparation of Breeze Airways’ maiden flight to San Francisco on Aug. 4, myriad infrastructure, technological and aesthetic upgrades have been or are in the process of being completed.
Initial investments at the former Norton Air Force Base paved the way for commercial service, Aviation Director Mark Gibbs said recently.
“If we didn’t have those initial investments already in the ground,” he added, “we couldn’t have met the airline’s timeline.”
Utah-based Breeze Airways announced in March that nonstop commercial flights to San Francisco would depart from San Bernardino International this August.
In the months since the announcement, the airport has hired dozens of new employees and installed new wayfinding signs, contracted with the city for law enforcement services, updated its ticket counter and the technology behind it, and built out its Transportation Security Administration area.
“We’re putting a fresh coat of paint on everything,” Gibbs said.
In addition to upgrading roadways around the airport, revamping the parking lot and installing new landscaping, airport leaders are working closely with TSA officials to bring the airfield up to federal standards.
Hertz, meanwhile, is setting up shop next to the terminal. Lyft also has signed on as a transportation partner.
“We want the experience to be commensurate with the airline,” Gibbs said. “Breeze is a great airline and they need to be flying out of an airport that’s reflective of their brand.
“We think we can fit that.”
Following Breeze Airways’ March announcement of $49 one-way trips to San Francisco, the airline added flights to Provo, Utah. Travelers bound for the Beehive State will remain on the plane in San Francisco for a short time before departing for their final stop.
Local billboards, radio spots and internet ads are promoting the highly-anticipated Aug. 4 debut.
“We’ve been working toward this moment for a long time,” Gibbs said. “We’re excited to see the launch. These flights are open and available to anyone, and it will fit their budget.
“Going to San Francisco for $49 is a pretty easy thing to do, and most of all, it’s convenient.”
On top of the dollars being spent to prep the San Bernardino airport for commercial flights, Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Redlands, last week announced that $7 million in Federal Aviation Administration funding has been awarded to the airport to help maintain its taxiways, runways, weather stations, ramps and other key infrastructure.
“We like this momentum,” Gibbs said.
“A more efficient airport will help address supply chain issues and lower costs here in the Inland Empire,” Aguilar said in a news release. “This airport is an important economic engine of our region responsible for nearly 13,000 jobs and $2 billion in economic activity.”
San Bernardino International is hosting a free concert at 7:30 p.m. July 23 on its 737 plane stage at the airport, 105 N. Leland Norton Way, to celebrate the arrival of passenger service. There will be food vendors as well as a beer garden for those 21 and older. To register or for information, visit flysbd.com online.