Amazon knows where Stockton is.
So do a lot of people who keep the San Francisco Bay Area economy going who can’t afford to live in San Francisco, San Jose, San Mateo, Oakland, Palo Alto, and Pleasanton, et al.
It is why it is amusing to a degree that not knowing where Stockton was located was the big reason why it was suggested to change Stockton Metro Airport to San Francisco Stockton Regional Airport. It’s even more amusing that the San Francisco powers that be rushed to bat down the suggested name change saying it would create confusion by prompting travelers to head to San Francisco Stockton Regional Airport instead of San Francisco International.
But there is often a kernel of truth in every absurdity.
Let’s start with travelers booking flights into the wrong airport. In the Age of Travelocity and Expedia anything is possible. Allegiant is the only scheduled passenger service in and out of Stockton. That said flying into the San Francisco Bay Area via Stockton isn’t as crazy as it sounds.
It can cost $36 a day for secured parking at San Francisco International Airport and takes what seems like hours to find a parking space. If you are going to pick someone up it costs $2 for every 15 minutes you park your car and it’s a hike and a half to the terminal.
Stockton offers secured parking that’s $10 overnight. You don’t have to pay a dime to park to pick somebody up and it’s a stroll to the terminal.
But you say, why would anyone want to fly in — or out of — Stockton Airport?
Jeff Bezos has one answer. If you want to move cargo in and out of arguably the most lucrative and dynamic market in the country without bankrupting your business empire, Stockton Airport is the answer.
It is why Amazon Prime Air jets fly in and out of Stockton daily and not San Jose, not Oakland, and certainly not San Francisco. It’s not just because Stockton has the lowest landing fees of any California airport and has no curfews or restrictions on takeoffs or landings.
That’s just the beginning. More firms every month are discovering it is much more cost effective to do business in the Bay Area from San Joaquin County.
Firms are now on pace to build or lease almost 4 million square feet of distribution centers over the next 12 months in Tracy, Lathrop, Stockton, and Manteca. Compare that to two of San Francisco’s three tallest skyscrapers — the 61-floor Salesforce Tower and the 48-floor Transamerica Pyramid for a combined 2.1 million square feet. It is comparing watermelons with cherries. But it does illustrate San Joaquin County — and Stockton Airport — is the go to place if you have a business and you want to tap or serve the lucrative Bay Area market and you have to physically distribute and move goods. Land and development costs are significantly lower, labor is more plentiful and less costly, and the transit system — rail intermodal hubs, freeways, and seaport — are all clustered within a 15-minute radius around Stockton Metro Airport. Fifteen minutes after you leave the terminal at SFO might get you to the Bayshore Freeway.
If businesses relying on distribution centers and physical products just do what Burger King did for years and followed the leader — McDonald’s — in determining where to grow, they will know where Stockton Airport is on the strength of Amazon alone.
And while they may still be bent over in laughter thinking no one in their right mind would fly into Stockton to visit San Francisco, guess again.
You come across people in Yosemite — and even Manteca — all the time who fly into SF but only spend a couple days out of a week visit physically seeing the sights of The City. They keep clothes there for more days while they head to Yosemite, Napa Valley, Lake Tahoe and other attractions.
While the numbers aren’t significant, there is a small and steady number of people who fly into SFO and use Manteca for a base hotel. Granted these are people who don’t use Uber or airport limo services as they prefer the freedom and more reasonable pricing of a rental car.
Toss in the fact a lot of people who can get to Stockton Airport with less hassle and in the same amount of time as San Jose, Oakland, and San Francisco live west of the Altamont Pass and you start to see how flying in and out of “San Francisco Stockton” doesn’t seem like a nutso idea.
A low-cost carrier could peel off a sizeable amount of the Tri-Valley area flying public not to mention 1.6 million consumers in the Northern San Joaquin Valley.
Flying into the Bay Area as a tourist, if you land at Stockton you are more central to a host of world class attractions — sorry, San Francisco, there’s more than just “The City” that falls into the category — Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, the Wine Country, the Gold Country, Old Sacramento, and more.
Hotels are also less expensive plus you have the “real California” without all the glitz attached. You have “the” wine country — no county in the nation produces more wine grapes than San Joaquin — California’s No. 1 industry and exporter in the form of farming, and the cities and towns where Americans that can’t afford $1,500 suits, limousine service, and $4,500 a month studio apartments live and work.
Come to think of it, maybe it’s San Francisco that could benefit from a name change to Stockton San Francisco International Airport.