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A message from Thella F. Bowens, President/ CEO and
Robert H. Gleason, Board Chair

Thella BowensRobert GleasonLet’s take a minute to talk about leadership. Warren Bennis once said, “Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.”

For the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, 2014 was the year that our vision for the future of air travel truly came into focus.

We’re talking about our vision for becoming a leader in the field of sustainability – which was reflected in numerous awards for our ambitious Green Build expansion of Terminal 2. We’re talking about forging ahead with a bold vision for how our airport should accommodate growth, and how we work with local and small businesses to make it happen. And we’re talking about our vision for taking the lead as a good community partner and agent for positive change – enriching the lives of others, and through that, enriching our own.

In our case, it’s a collective vision of like-minded people. SAN is very lucky to have a dedicated board that selflessly invests its time and energy to the betterment of this airport. And SAN is equally fortunate to have a passionate and tireless staff, who take policy direction from the board and turn it into tangible programs, development and benefits for our passengers.

Looking back on 2014, it’s clear we have a lot to celebrate. This annual report only hits the highlights: sustainability, community investment, responsible development and, of course, leadership.

Roy E. Disney said, “When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier.”

Our values are clear because our collective vision is clear. This annual report is a roadmap, showing how we got from inspiration to motivation. Ready to take a trip with us?

Let’s go.

-Thella F. Bowens and Robert H. Gleason

‘Leed’ing the Way

San Diego International Airport is a bit unusual, as airports go.  We operate under a public sector governance model, but we receive zero local tax dollars and earn all of our own revenue through operations. That frees us to do things the way they should be done, instead of the way that makes the most money. Hence, our continued focus on sustainability, which kicked into high gear in 2014.

Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.
-Peter Drucker

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    A Platinum Record

    In 2014, San Diego International Airport became the first airport to receive LEED Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

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    An Awarding Experience

    From the beginning, we knew the Green Build expansion of Terminal 2 was pretty special.

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    Recycle. Get Recognized. Repeat.

    For the 10th time in the last 12 years, SAN was named “Recycler of the Year” by the City of San Diego.

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    Taking a Stand on Climate Change

    In another first, SAN became the first airport in the country to sign the Climate Declaration and call on federal and state lawmakers to address

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    A Continuing Commitment to Sustainability

    We were proud to publish our third annual sustainability report based on Global Reporting Initiative guidelines.

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    Last But Not Least

    Our Environmental Affairs Department took extensive measures to protect more than 100 Least Terns, an endangered seabird, that calls SAN home.

A Moving Experience

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.
-John Quincy Adams

Here’s the inside story: Life in SAN’s terminals in 2014 was busy, fun and fast. We broke passenger records. We unveiled a bold new brand.  We opened new shops and eateries at a blistering pace. And, when things got a bit too frantic, we helped some travelers find comfort.  

  • A New Brand for SAN

    We had a lot of changes at SAN in 2014, but one of the most visible ones was our new brand. It’s bright. It’s bold. It’s the new SAN.

  • Concessions Has You Covered

    Need a nosh? And maybe a newspaper to go with? Grab them – and oh, hey, maybe one of those cool neck pillows? – at one of more than a dozen new shops and restaurants that opened at SAN in 2014.

  • A Plethora of Passengers

    We move people. Lots of them. SAN served 18.7 million passengers in 2014, breaking the record set in 2007. SAN also set new records for total passenger boardings and international passengers.

  • Ready, Pet, Go.

    SAN’s Volunteer Airport Ambassador (VAA) program expanded in 2014 to include a dedicated team of four-legged creatures who specialize in putting smiles on weary passengers’ faces.

  • Crisis Response Tested

    Every three years, the FAA asks airports to pull out all the stops and hold a full-scale emergency training exercise to test critical first responders.

  • Dep(ART)ures and Arrivals

    Art adds texture to the airport environment and engages the imagination. That’s why 2014 was so important for our Airport Art Program in so many ways.

Going the Extra Mile

The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority is committed to operating San Diego’s air transportation gateways in a manner that promotes the region’s prosperity and protects its quality of life. That entails more than just providing the best possible air travel experience for the nearly 18.8 million passengers we serve every year. It means reaching out to the greater San Diego region, providing opportunities to small and local businesses, and engaging our neighbors in a dialogue about our future.


Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.
-John F. Kennedy


  • Community Volunteerism

    Here at SAN, we spend a lot of time thinking about, well, SAN. But we know we’re part of a broader community, which is why SAN employees and their families volunteered a combined 937 hours for important causes such as the San Diego Food Bank, St. Vincent De Paul Village, Read Across America and the United Way Day of Action.

  • Planning for the Future

    Think you can build a better airport? We do. That’s why we unveiled a new public outreach program seeking input on the Airport Development Plan, which contemplates the future of Terminal 1, the former Teledyne-Ryan property and other master planning possibilities. Put your two cents in here.

  • Small Business, Big Results

    Thanks to extensive community outreach, carefully tailored bid packages and flexible contracting policies, the Airport Authority was able to award $155 million in construction projects to local businesses and $60 million in contracts to small businesses for the Rental Car Center, set to open in January 2016.

  • Veterans Outreach

    The Airport Authority launched a fellowship program last year designed to help veterans transition from active duty. The six-month program provides veterans with valuable work experience and networking opportunities as they re-acclimate to civilian life.

  • Helping Wounded Warriors

    Airport Ambassadors Ginna James, Barbara Sturgeon and Dorothy Herzog stepped up and volunteered for TSA’s Military Severely Injured Assistance program, which helps wounded warriors get through TSA screenings at SAN. In the 12-month period that ended last April, they assisted wounded warriors with more than 1,400 flights and earned certificates of appreciation from the TSA.

  • Flights of Fancy

    For the 11th year, more than two-dozen young people took part in the YMCA Airport Explorers summer camp. The kids toured the airfield, hung out with bomb-sniffing Harbor Police dogs and visited the cockpit of an airliner, among a host of other behind-the-scenes activities.

Taking off in New Directions

At SAN, progress marched on in 2014.  Not satisfied to rest on our laurels with the successful opening of the Green Build expansion of Terminal 2 in 2013, we doubled down on our commitment to the future, focusing on improvements to the North Side of the airfield. We completed a new cutting-edge fixed-base operator complex and an environmentally innovative parking lot. We also made significant progress on the Rental Car Center, which is set to open in January 2016.

Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.
-Jack Welch

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    Rental Car Center Passes Halfway Mark

    Construction on the new Rental Car Center reached the halfway mark in late 2014. The one-stop shop for rental cars will be serviced by one consolidated shuttle serving all rental car companies, instead of many brand-specific shuttles. This will dramatically reduce rental car traffic on Harbor Drive and the number of shuttle buses circulating around the airport. The center is scheduled to open in January 2016.


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    A New Landmark for the North Side

    SAN welcomed a new, state-of-the-art fixed-base operator complex on the North Side last summer. Landmark Aviation opened a new 19,000-square-foot business aviation facility featuring five hangars for private jets and a host of amenities for business travelers, including office space, a “snooze room,” a fitness center, gourmet cafe, executive conference rooms and an open-air patio with views of downtown and the runway.


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    A Lot to Like

    When is a parking lot not just a parking lot? When it’s the new long-term economy parking lot, which re-opened in a new location along Pacific Highway in spring 2014. The new lot boasts innovative and environmentally friendly features such as 12 modular ‘wetland’ areas designed to filter stormwater runoff, a 45,000-square-foot underground stormwater retention basin and 215 drought-tolerant trees.

Charting a Course for the Future

Leaders keep their eyes on the horizon, not just on the bottom line.
-Warren Bennis

At SAN, we take great pride in being good stewards of the money we receive in user fees from passengers and airlines. This commitment can be seen in a variety of ways. Here are just three examples:

  • Major Bond Sale: In February 2014, the Airport Authority completed a $305.3 million bond sale to finance the construction of the Rental Car Center and related improvements on the North Side. The Airport Authority’s careful timing of market entry for the sale, pricing during a time when rates were more attractive, and strong credit ratings for the bonds (Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s rated the bonds A3 and A-, respectively), resulted in the bond offering being extremely well received.
  • Golden Watchdog Award: The Green Build expansion project earned a Golden Watchdog Award from the San Diego County Taxpayers Association for efficient use of tax dollars. The Taxpayers Association noted that “the Green Build was completed on-time and came in approximately $45 million under budget … and it’s awesome.”
  • CAFR Award: In August 2014, the Airport Authority was once again recognized with the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting for its Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2013. View the report >>

For more on how we watch the bottom line, click on the video below.


Leadership is for those who love the public good and are endowed and trained to administer it. -Thornton Wilder


  • Robert H. Gleason (Board Chair) | Appointed by Mayor, City of San Diego
  • Tom Smisek (Board Vice Chair) | Appointed by South County area mayors
  • David Alvarez, City Council Member, City of San Diego | Appointed by Mayor, City of San Diego
  • Bruce Boland | Appointed by Mayor, City of San Diego (served through August 2014)
  • C. April Boling | Appointed by Mayor, City of San Diego (beginning November 2014)
  • Greg Cox | Appointed by San Diego County Board of Supervisors
  • Jim Desmond, Mayor, City of San Marcos | Appointed by North Inland area mayors
  • Lloyd B. Hubbs | Appointed by North Coastal area mayors
  • Paul Robinson | Appointed by San Diego County Board of Supervisors
  • Mary Sessom, Mayor, City of Lemon Grove | Appointed by East County area mayors


  • Col. John Farnam | Appointed by United States Marine Corps
  • Laurie Berman | Appointed by Caltrans District 11
  • Eraina Ortega | Appointed by California Department of Finance


  • Thella F. Bowens | President and CEO
    • Scott Brickner | Vice President, Finance Treasurer
    • Hampton Brown | Director, Air Service Development
    • Matt Harris | Senior Director, Assets and Alliances
    • Jeff Lindeman | Senior Director, Talent and Engagement
    • Diana Lucero | Director, Vision, Voice & Engagement
    • Tony Russell | Director, Corporate & Information Governance
    • Angela Shafer-Payne | Vice President, Operations
    • Jeff Woodson | Vice President, Development
  • Mark Burchyett | Chief Auditor
  • Breton K. Lobner | General Counsel

A Tribute

This year we said goodbye to San Diego County Regional Airport Authority Board Member Admiral Bruce Boland

A Respected Leaderboland_bruce_13

As you’ve probably noticed, there’s a quote about leadership at the top of each section of this Annual Report. The purpose of the quote is to advance this report’s theme and lend a voice for each topic.

Rear Admiral Bruce Boland knew the true meaning of leadership, and we lost a true hero, respected colleague and cherished friend when he died on August 19, 2014.

A decorated Vietnam War veteran who served his country for 30-plus years, Boland’s last military post was that of San Diego’s “Navy Mayor,” the unofficial title for the Commander of Navy Region Southwest.

Boland’s encore after three decades of military life was to embark on a career of civilian public service in San Diego, where he held high-level posts in County government, led the United Way of San Diego County as its President and CEO, and volunteered his time and expertise to help the USO, Veterans Village, Armed Services YMCA and more.

The plight of veterans was a cause close to his heart, and he spent considerable time advising those leaving military service on adjusting to civilian life, and also lobbying on their behalf. He told the Daily Transcript in 2011, “I say to businessmen looking for talent: Don’t overlook those who’ve retired out of the military. They bring a tremendous amount of expertise and can really make your company shine.”

Admiral Boland was appointed to the Airport Authority board in 2006 by then-Mayor Jerry Sanders. He was generous with his time and expertise, and may best be remembered for his invaluable contributions to The Green Build expansion of Terminal 2 (which, fittingly, is home to the largest USO airport center in the world).

The City of San Diego has approved the board’s request to rename Terminal Link Road in honor of Admiral Boland “for his numerous contributions and tireless advocacy for the military, veterans, San Diego International Airport and the San Diego region.”

Bruce Boland embodied leadership, and in his name, and in the spirit of how he lived his life, we dedicate this Annual Report.