San Francisco Airport Battle: SFO Sues Over Oakland’s New Name

Russss, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Bay Area is experiencing turbulence, but not of the airplane variety. A legal battle has erupted between the two major airports serving the region – San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and the recently renamed San Francisco Bay Oakland International Airport (OAK).

SFO Takes Flight with Lawsuit

SFO initiated the dispute by filing a lawsuit against OAK. So, what exactly is the crux of their argument?

The claim is that the newly adopted name, San Francisco Bay Oakland International Airport, is too similar to theirs and could cause confusion among travelers.

SFO fears that passengers intending to fly into San Francisco might mistakenly book flights for OAK, leading to missed connections and travel headaches.

They believe their established brand name with the prominent “San Francisco” tag deserves protection.

A United Airlines Boeing 737 at San Francisco SFO.
SFO. Photo Credit: Raimond Spekking via Wikimedia Commons.

Oakland Counters with Claim of Fair Play

The Port of Oakland, which manages OAK, isn’t taking SFO’s accusations lying down. They have now promptly filed a counter lawsuit.

The Port argues that the new moniker accurately reflects the airport’s location within the San Francisco Bay area and doesn’t infringe on SFO’s trademarks.

They emphasize the distinct airport codes (SFO and OAK) further eliminating any potential confusion. Port of Oakland attorney Mary Richardson explained on the launch of the counterclaim lawsuit:

“Changing ‘Metropolitan’ to ‘San Francisco Bay’ in Oakland Airport’s name accurately describes OAK’s geographic location on the Bay. It presents the airport as an additional choice for travel into the San Francisco Bay Area.”

Video Credit: Port of Oakland

SFO and OAK: Bay Area Travel Hubs

The Bay Area boasts two major airports serving the region: San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and Oakland International Airport (OAK). The latter was recently renamed San Francisco Bay Oakland International Airport.

Despite the legal wrangling over the new name, both airports play a vital role in connecting travelers to the Bay Area and beyond.

San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is the larger and busier of the two. Located just south of the city, SFO is a major international gateway and a hub for several airlines.

Oakland International Airport (OAK), situated across the bay in Oakland, offers a more convenient option for travelers heading to East Bay destinations like Berkeley or Oakland itself.

While smaller than SFO, OAK has grown in popularity in recent years, particularly for budget-conscious travelers.

Interestingly, despite the use of the city name in both airport titles, OAK is actually slightly closer to downtown San Francisco than SFO.

The distance between the two airports is relatively small, with a drive between them taking approximately 30-35 minutes depending on traffic conditions.

The legal storm over the matter has been brewing since April. This airport naming rights spat is a fresh development, with news of the impending lawsuits being announced in May 2024. It will now be up to the courts to decide the fate of OAK’s new name.

The outcome will be closely watched by travelers, businesses, and aviation authorities alike. It may set a precedent for how airport names can be crafted to avoid confusion while still reflecting their locations.

Click the banner to subscribe to our weekly newsleter.

Click the photo to join our WhatsApp channel so then you can stay up to date with everything going on in the aviation industry!

By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 4 Min Read
4 Min Read
You Might Also Enjoy