SFO strikes back against Oakland Airport with lawsuit over 'San Francisco Bay' name change

George Avalos, The Mercury News on

Published in Business News

OAKLAND, California — San Francisco is suing Oakland over a controversial move to add “San Francisco Bay” to Oakland International Airport’s official name, marking the start of a possible legal war between the two cities.

The East Bay aviation complex — which, like its busier competitor to the west, abuts San Francisco Bay — is seeking a new name to heighten its profile among air travelers visiting the Bay Area.

The Port of Oakland on April 11 gave preliminary approval to change OAK’s name to San Francisco Bay Oakland International Airport, sparking an immediate outcry from elected officials in San Francisco and SFO leaders. The port, which operates the East Bay airport, is scheduled to take a final vote on the matter in May.

San Francisco struck back Thursday with the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court.

“We had hoped Oakland would come to its senses,” San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu said in a statement. “The defendant’s (Oakland’s) refusal to collaborate on an acceptable alternative name leaves us no choice but to file a lawsuit to protect SFO’s trademark.”

In response, the Port of Oakland said it believes the name change won’t harm San Francisco International Airport.


“Oakland Airport’s proposed renaming does not infringe upon SFO’s trademark,” said Kaley Skantz, a spokesperson for OAK.

Port officials decided to undertake the name change, they said, because the East Bay airport’s profile has begun to wither in the economic shadow cast by SFO, and because of the East Bay airport’s physical location on the shores of the bay.

“We will vigorously defend our right to claim our spot on the San Francisco Bay,” Skantz said. “We are standing up for Oakland and our East Bay community.”

In 2023, SFO handled more than 50 million passengers, while Oakland handled about 11.24 million air travelers.


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