Sacramento International Airport

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Sacramento International Airport
Sacramento International Airport 1.jpg
Lower floor of the new Terminal B.


SMF is located in California
Location in California
Airport type Public
Owner County of Sacramento
Operator Sacramento County Airport System
Serves Sacramento, California
Elevation AMSL 27 ft / 8 m
Coordinates 38°41′44″N 121°35′27″W / 38.69556°N 121.59083°W / 38.69556; -121.59083Coordinates: 38°41′44″N 121°35′27″W / 38.69556°N 121.59083°W / 38.69556; -121.59083
Direction Length Surface
ft m
16L/34R 8,605 2,623 Concrete
16R/34L 8,598 2,621 Asphalt
Statistics (2015)
Passengers 9,609,880
Commercial flights/day 323

Sacramento International Airport (IATA: SMFICAO: KSMFFAA LID: SMF) is 10 miles (16 km) northwest of downtown Sacramento, in Sacramento County, California. It is run by the Sacramento County Airport System. Southwest Airlines carries about half the airline passengers. In 2015 the airport handled 9,609,880, an increase of 6.6% from 8,972,756 passengers in 2014.


Due to housing growth around Sacramento Executive Airport, the City of Sacramento Planning Department and the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors commissioned a study in the 1950s to move airline flights to a less populated area. In 1957 the proposed construction of Sacramento Metropolitan Airport and purchase of nearly 6,000 acres north of downtown Sacramento was considered extravagant, risky, poorly located and based on unrealistic passenger expectations.

Sacramento International Airport (SMF) opened October 21, 1967 as Sacramento Metropolitan Airport with one 8600-foot runway. Until then the airlines used Sacramento Municipal Airport (SAC), now called Sacramento Executive Airport. The estimate of 750,000 annual passengers soon proved conservative as the airport surpassed one million passengers during its first year. Sacramento Metropolitan Airport was the first airport west of the Mississippi built from the ground up for public use.

The airport initially had five airlines: Pacific Air Lines, Pacific Southwest Airlines (PSA), United Airlines, Western Airlines and West Coast Airlines. For a short time around 1975 PSA tried Lockheed L-1011 TriStars at Sacramento, nonstop to San Francisco and direct to Los Angeles. L-1011 flights were found uneconomical and PSA soon replaced the L-1011 with smaller jets such as the Boeing 727-200.

During the 1980s development included: the in-flight catering facility (1980), an FAA Flight Inspection Field Office (1985), a second air cargo facility (1985) and the east runway (1987). The east runway’s opening was celebrated by the landing of a Concorde SST.[3] America West Airlines, Continental Airlines, Morris Air, Northwest Airlines and American Eagle Airlines joined the original carriers at Sacramento Metropolitan Airport during this time.

In the 1990s the consolidated rental car facility and Terminal A opened in 1999, which was designed by Dreyfuss & Blackford Architects.[4] Meanwhile, traffic continued to grow. With the opening of a new terminal building it was renamed Sacramento International Airport, though it did not receive international flights until 2002 when Mexicana started nonstops to Guadalajara. The airport was designated a port of entry on October 5, 2006.[5]

The consolidated rental car terminal, the first of its kind in the nation, gave all rental car customers a single point of access that could be reached on a single shuttle. This innovation streamlined bus operations to reduce congestion at the terminal and improve air quality while enhancing customer service.

The Sacramento County Airport System launched its Web site in April 1997.

Baggage Claim at Terminal A
Loading Zone Terminal A
Overview of the Ticketing deck at Terminal B
Connecter from Terminal B to Concourse Building
The third floor (shopping plaza) at Terminal B
Gates at the Terminal B Concourse
Elevators on Terminal B's third floor

Southwest Airlines (1991), Alaska Airlines (1993), Horizon Air (1993) and Trans World Airlines (TWA) (1994) were added to the list of carriers at Sacramento. Southwest and Alaska Airlines grew quickly, offsetting the departure of airlines such as American Eagle, Continental and USAir which had acquired PSA.

Airport security procedures were dramatically changed after September 11, 2001. The newly formed Department of Homeland Security and Transportation Security Administration were created and sweeping changes were implemented to improve aviation security.

September 11 did not deter growth at Sacramento International Airport. Four airlines were soon added to Sacramento International: Continental returned (2000) and Frontier (2002), Mexicana (2002), Hawaiian (2002) and Aloha Airlines (2003) initiated service. Mexicana’s arrival initiated international nonstop flights and necessitated completion of the International Arrivals Building for federal inspection services.

The Terminal A Parking Garage opened September 23, 2004. The six-story structure had covered parking, a short walk to the terminal and public art ("Flying Gardens" by Dennis Oppenheim and "Flying Carpet" by Seyed Alavi).

In 2006 Sacramento International Airport was one of the first airports in the nation to offer free wireless Internet service (WiFi).

As the nation’s economy was taking a hit in 2008, commercial aviation was challenged by reduced passenger numbers and increasing fuel and other costs. ExpressJet ceased independent operations in 2008, Aloha Airlines ceased operations in 2008 and Mexicana discontinued operations as well. However, prior to the economic downturn, new services began and airliners merged. America West and US Airways merged, Northwest and Delta Merged and, United and Continental initiated their merger by the end of 2011. Despite these challenges, Alaska added nonstop flights to Guadalajara, Mexico (now discontinued) and Hawaii (Maui) while Aeromexico's (2011) debut reestablished foreign-flag service with daily nonstops to Guadalajara, Mexico. On April 2011 American Eagle started flights to Los Angeles. On June 5, 2008 US Airways began seasonal flights to Charlotte and Philadelphia. In the summer of 2010, Delta Air Lines began seasonal flights to Detroit.

Long dominated by Southwest and United (United Express), the intra-California market was joined in 2011 by American (American Eagle Airlines) and Delta (Delta Connection) which fly from Los Angeles International Airport.

Air Canada flew to this airport in 2007–2008 to Vancouver, but ended the route in 2008.

The airport was a focus city for ExpressJet Airlines which independently operated Embraer ERJ-145s on point-to-point, "hub bypass" routes. ExpressJet then ended all independent flying and refocused its business on code shares for major airlines.

Sacramento County has tried (and so far failed) to entice Virgin America into adding a Los Angeles route by giving them 400,000 dollars to operate out of terminal A or 150,000 dollars to operate in terminal B; other airports are trying to entice the airline.[6] On January 6, 2013, Frontier Airlines ended service to Denver.

In 2011, the airport carried an estimated 9 million passengers; it averaged 323 flights a day. Continental Airlines, which later merged with United Airlines, previously had seasonal flights to Newark. Sacramento's seasonal route operated during the summer and fall.

Between 1990 and 2007, Sacramento International Airport had a high incidence of bird strikes due to its location in an avian migratory route.

Sacramento hosted one of Alaska Airlines' last MD-80 flights, Sacramento to Seattle.

Frontier Airlines previously flew from here to Redding.

US Airways previously flew to Las Vegas, but ended service after closing its Las Vegas hub.

On July 6, 2013, the airport was one of ten airports that hosted flights diverted from San Francisco International Airport after Asiana Airlines Flight 214 crashed short of the runway.

On December 17, 2013, Aeroméxico began seasonal service to Del Bajío International Airport.

Since September 2014, the airport has started to gradually grow due to expanding services from several airlines, despite some destinations being terminated or suspended. On November 18, 2014, United Airlines announced it would suspend service to Washington D.C. from January 6, 2015, to April 6, 2015, citing seasonal demand in the market as the reason. On May 4, 2015 Delta Air Lines started service to Seattle-Tacoma with the flights operated by SkyWest Airlines. On December 3, 2014, United Express ended service to Arcata/Eureka and Crescent City. On February 9, 2015, SeaPort Airlines began service to Visalia. On June 18, 2015 JetBlue Airways started seasonal service to Boston. On April 8, 2015 Southwest Airlines started service to Dallas-Love They also announced (later in the year) service to Boise beginning January 6, 2016. On March 26, 2015, Aeroméxico started service to Mexico City on April 6, 2015. In the month of May, American Airlines added a fifth flight to Dallas Fort-Worth.

Due to the gradual growth of the airport, on April 23, 2015 the airport announced that it has posted twelve consecutive months of improved passenger traffic that started on April 2014.

In 2016, American Airlines announced that it would begin flying between Sacramento and Chicago O'Hare beginning in June with twice daily flights for the summer season falling to single daily nonstop throughout the rest of the year.


Sacramento International Airport covers 6,000 acres[7] (22 km²) and has two runways:

  • 16L/34R: 8,605 x 150 ft. (2,623 x 46 m) Concrete
  • 16R/34L: 8,598 x 150 ft. (2,621 x 46 m) Asphalt


The airport has two terminals, terminal A and terminal B. In total the airport has 32 gates, 19 in terminal B and 13 in terminal A. The old terminal B had 14 gates. 7 airlines operate out of Terminal B and 7 airlines operate out of Terminal A. All indoor public areas have free wi-fi (wireless Internet) provided by the Sacramento County Airport System.

Expansion project[edit]

On June 7, 2006, plans were announced to replace the aging Terminal B with a brand new terminal by the year 2012. In 2008, the Sacramento County Airport System broke ground on the largest capital improvement project in the history of the County of Sacramento: "The Big Build". Designed by Corgan Associates, Inc. in association with Fentress Architects. The landside Terminal was built by the joint venture of Austin Commercial, LP and Walsh Construction. The airside gates and light rail train was built by Turner Construction. While the Landside Glass and Aluminum Facade was constructed by AGA (Architectural Glass and Aluminum). The $1.03 billion terminal modernization project replaced the airport's original, aging Terminal B to meet the rising demand for passenger services and improved the airport's ability to attract new carriers and routes. Aeromexico, Alaska/Horizon, Hawaiian, Volaris, Seaport Airlines, and Southwest are located in the new terminal while American, Delta, United, and JetBlue[8] operate out of Terminal A.

The Central Terminal B complex is three times the size of the original Terminal B with the two parts of the complex – airside and landside – connected by an automated people mover.

Airport officials held a press conference on July 15, 2011 at the California State Fair, announcing the terminal will open on October 6, 2011. This is many months ahead of schedule from the original projected opening in 2012.[9]

The new Central Terminal B became fully operational on October 6, 2011. Salvage and deconstruction of the International Arrivals Building and demolition of the original Terminal B was completed November 2012. A Hyatt Place hotel is planned to be built between the two current terminals.[10]

The airport's first waiter-serviced restaurants were introduced to the new Terminal B when it opened. These two restaurants are Esquire Grill by famous restauranteur Randy Paragary, a trendy and upscale option, and Cafeteria 15L, a low-cost and budget inspired restaurant with fast food. Other Sacramento favorites held concession stands in the terminal, creating an entirely new Farm To Fork vibe in the airport which Northern California is so renowned for.

Airlines and destinations[edit]


Airlines Destinations Terminal
Aeroméxico Guadalajara
Seasonal: Mexico City
Alaska Airlines Kahului, Seattle/Tacoma
Alaska Airlines
operated by Horizon Air
Boise, Los Angeles, Portland (OR) B
Alaska Airlines
operated by SkyWest Airlines
San Diego (begins March 16, 2017)[11] B
American Airlines Chicago-O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Phoenix–Sky Harbor
Seasonal: Charlotte
American Eagle Los Angeles A
Delta Air Lines Atlanta, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Salt Lake City A
Delta Connection Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Seattle/Tacoma A
Hawaiian Airlines Honolulu B
JetBlue Airways Long Beach, New York-JFK
Seasonal: Boston
Southwest Airlines Baltimore, Boise, Burbank, Chicago-Midway, Dallas-Love, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Ontario, Orange County, Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Portland (OR), Salt Lake City (begins March 9, 2017),[12] San Diego, Seattle/Tacoma B
United Airlines Chicago-O'Hare, Denver, Houston-Intercontinental
Seasonal: Washington D.C.
United Express Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco A
Volaris Guadalajara B


Top destinations[edit]

Southwest Airlines jet on the tarmac of Sacramento international Airport outside Gate 18 of Terminal B. Destination: Las Vegas, Nevada in 2014
Busiest domestic routes from SMF (August 2015 – July 2016)[13]
Rank City Passengers Carriers
1 Los Angeles, California 541,000 American, Delta, Southwest, United
2 Seattle/Tacoma, Washington 448,000 Alaska, Delta, Southwest
3 Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Arizona 429,000 American/US Airways, Southwest
4 San Diego, California 338,000 Southwest
5 Denver, Colorado 310,000 Southwest, United
6 Las Vegas, Nevada 305,000 Southwest
7 Orange County, California 277,000 Southwest
8 Portland, Oregon 248,000 Alaska, Southwest
9 Ontario, California 236,000 Southwest
10 Burbank, California 223,000 Southwest

Airline market share[edit]

Largest Airlines at SMF (Apr 2015 – Mar 2016)[14]
Rank Airline Passengers Share
1 Southwest Airlines 5,025,000 53.54%
2 American Airlines 790,000 8.41%
3 United Airlines 663,000 7.06%
4 SkyWest Airlines 646,000 6.89%
5 Delta Air Lines 608,000 6.47%

Annual traffic[edit]

Annual passenger traffic (enplaned + deplaned) at SMF, 2001 through 2015[15]
Year Passengers Year Passengers
2001 8,036,942 2011 8,547,927
2002 8,510,924 2012 8,909,658
2003 8,778,163 2013 8,686,530
2004 9,580,722 2014 8,972,756
2005 10,203,066 2015 9,609,880
2006 10,362,800
2007 10,767,639
2008 9,844,307
2009 8,780,942
2010 8,667,338

Ground transportation[edit]


The airport is accessed via Airport Blvd directly from Interstate 5 at exit 528. The following freeways can be reached via I-5 within 10 miles of the airport: Interstate 80, CA-113 and CA-99.

Public transit[edit]

Yolobus bus No. 42 connects the airport to Sacramento, Woodland and Davis. Sacramento Regional Transit will provide a future light rail link, an extension of the Green Line, to the airport. Environmental evaluation and clearance for the Green Line is projected to be complete by 2018.[16]

Accidents and incidents[edit]

The new Terminal B
  • On Wednesday, November 25, 2015 around 5:45 pm, United Airlines Flight 2005 from SMF to Denver, operated with an Airbus A320 with 114 people on board was forced to turn around soon after takeoff after one of its engines was damaged during a large bird strike. Approximately 10 minutes into the flight, the bird strike and subsequent explosion in the engine forced the plane to return to the airport. It landed at about 6:30 p.m., with no injuries reported. The airliner was taken out of commission to make repairs on the engine.[17]
  • On the afternoon of Thursday, August 26, 2010, JetBlue Airbus A320 Flight 262 arriving from Long Beach, CA blew four tires upon landing, creating a fire around the plane and causing passengers to evacuate. Out of the 87 passengers and five crew, 15 sustained injuries, although none of them were particularly serious. Five passengers were hospitalized, but nobody died. A JetBlue spokesman said that the flight reported an issue with the brakes.
  • At approximately 6:30 PM on Tuesday, December 27, 2011, Seattle-bound Southwest Airlines Flight 2287 aborted take-off due to two blown-out tires. Although the plane reportedly made a hard landing, all 130 passengers aboard survived.[18]
  • Shortly before 6:00 PM on Wednesday, October 15, 2014, a pilot on an in-bound FedEx Express McDonnell Douglas MD-10-30 noticed a possible engine fire on one of the engines, with smoke showing. The aircraft declared an emergency and landed successfully. Emergency ground crews reported to the incident and determined that the on-board extinguishers had successfully extinguished the fire. Maintenance crews determined the aircraft could safely be towed to the cargo ramp for inspection and repairs.


  1. ^ FAA Airport Master Record for SMF (Form 5010 PDF), effective 2007-12-20
  2. ^ "Sacramento International Airport Total Operations and Traffic". Sacramento County Airport System. January 2016. Retrieved April 22, 2016. 
  3. ^ "Sacramento International Airport History". Retrieved March 31, 2015. 
  4. ^ "Sacramento International Airport Terminal A – Dreyfuss & Blackford Architects". Retrieved October 10, 2013. 
  5. ^ Turner, Melanie (October 6, 2006). "Sacramento International Named Official Port of Entry". Sacramento Business Journal. 
  6. ^ Turner, Melanie (April 10, 2012). "Sacramento County Approves Incentives to Land Virgin America at Airport". Sacramento Business Journal. Retrieved April 12, 2012. 
  7. ^ "History". Sacramento County Airport System. Retrieved January 17, 2013. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ Turner, Melanie (July 15, 2011). "New Sacramento Airport Terminal to Open in Fall". Retrieved July 15, 2011. 
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Alaska Air adds intra-California routes, touts international links". USA Today. May 21, 2016. Retrieved May 21, 2016. 
  12. ^
  13. ^ "Sacramento, CA: Sacramento International (SMF)". Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Retrieved September 22, 2016. 
  14. ^ "Sacramento, CA: Sacramento International (SMF)". Bureau of Transportation Statistics. May 2011. Retrieved June 30, 2016. 
  15. ^ Reports. Retrieved on Mar 28, 2016.
  16. ^
  17. ^ "Airplane leaving Sacramento damaged during bird strike". KRCA. November 25, 2015. Retrieved November 26, 2015. 
  18. ^ "Passengers on Seattle-bound flight tell of scary aborted takeoff in Sacramento". KCPQ. December 27, 2011. Retrieved January 17, 2013. 

External links[edit]