SJ Airport Needs a Heroic Loan

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
    Airline Capt. Chesley Sullenberger waves after the announcement naming him as the Grand Marshal for the 2010 Tournament of Roses Thursday, Nov. 5, 2009 in Pasadena, Calif. Sullenberger became an international hero on Jan. 15, 2009 when he and his crew safely guided US Airways Flight 1549 to an emergency water landing in New York City's frigid Hudson River. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

    An American hero is in the Bay Area today to tour Silicon Valley's newest airport.

    San Jose Mineta International isn't exactly all new but when the renovation is complete, it will be hardly recognizable.

    You remember Capt. Chesley Sullengerber, right? Maybe this name will ring a bell: Sully. He's the one who safely landed a plane on NY's Hudson River, quickly becoming known as the "Hero on the Hudson."

    Sully will join airport executives and Silicon Valley tech leaders from dozens of companies for a hard hat tour of the San Jose airport's newest terminal. Airport officials are using the tour to ask tech execs from Adobe, Brocade, Cisco, and others to help pay for the cost of terminal's grand opening in June.

    When the terminal project began five years ago, it was expected that the number of flights into SJC would grow but that has not become a reality. Instead, the number of daily departures has dropped 34 percent since 2007 and the airport is facing a $32 million debt payment, which is expected to double next year.

    So, instead of spending more on an elaborate party to introduce the new terminal, the airport is asking the tech world to chip in and help fray the cost.

    "In light of the economic times, and in light of the fact that we are laying off people," the airport's aviation director, Bill Sherry said, "I think it would be inappropriate for us to be spending city or airport dollars on grand parties."

    City leaders are looking at ways to make the airport more competitive and reconsidering some rules, like the controversial noise ordinance that bans late-night flights.

    The San Jose City Council will take up the issue at a special session on March 8.