Monthly Archives: August 2012

John Martin - Executive Director SFO

John Martin is the Executive Director of San Francisco International Airport. We caught up with John recently to ask him about what’s happening at the airport.

Q: What are the major upcoming projects at SFO? 


We are remodeling boarding area E in Terminal 3, which is the old American Airlines boarding area, to make room for the expansion of United Airlines. This project should be completed by 2014 and is valued at $140MM. In addition, we are completely renovating Terminal 1 and building another boarding area B, encompassing approximately 20 gates, making it a very large project. It should be complete by 2014 and is valued at $1B.

We are also replacing the Air Traffic Control tower, which was originally built in 1983. The new tower is expected to be completed by 2015. This project is valued at $120MM We are also complying with a congressional mandate to make additions to the runway safety area. It’s valued at $220MM.

Most people are unaware of what happens behind the scenes to make the airport run smoothly and efficiently. We are continually reinvesting in maintaining state-of-the-art facilities – if not, our airport would fall behind other major international airports.

Q: What is SFO doing to assist small and local businesses to compete on SFO projects?

We package the contracts so that small businesses can bid as prime contractors. We also set goals so that large contractors must subcontract to local firms at a significant level that reflects the diversity of the City and region.

Big contractors by and large want to support the airport’s goals and achieve a high level of business inclusion. In a recent project, 50% of the $383MM went to local contractors.

We utilize a Design Build methodology – Prime contractors are chosen through an RFP process rather than a low bid. This encourages them to support local hire initiatives and deliver the project on-time and on budget.

Q: What is the history of SFO and the City and County of San Francisco Surety Bond Program?    The bond program was created in 1996 as a part of the $2.4B master plan for the airport. It began as a pilot program for the city, and the first for the airport, soon became city-wide.

The success of the bond program, really shows the value of pilot (test) programs. The bond program pushed the envelope at the time, it was a vanguard program, particularly because of the guarantees that the airport would provide. When the airport created their program, the underlying fear was that there would be many losses, which proved not to be true. In terms of risk management, these programs work, are effective, without any significant losses.

Q: Why do you feel that diversity and inclusion is important as a public agency?

Our vision at the airport is to provide an exceptional service and serve every part of our community. The airport is an economic engine for the region and everyone should see the progress we’re making as beneficial to the entire Bay Area. This is a large part of why our mission statement says “communities” and not “community” because it is our job to serve the diversity of the communities we serve.

Currently, we are rethinking how we serve the disabled community and how they experience the airport. We are working very hard to make sure everyone enjoys the benefits of our amazing airport.

Q: What is your vision of the next 10 years?

We really hope to use the airport as a model for other airports. We are currently a leader in environmental programs and we’d love to see more companies use the airport and our continued development spring board more small businesses to a national level.

I love to see small businesses get their start in San Francisco, especially at the airport, and become national companies. Luster Construction Management, Pacific Gateway Concessions. These companies started working on projects at SFO and have truly grown to become national companies.

One can say that MWIS was able to grow significantly through its partnership with the airport. That is refreshing to see and demonstrates the impact of these types of programs.

Over the next 10 years, the airport is investing in over $2B in improvement projects and we take pride in working with the community to make sure there are business opportunities for MBE and LBE firms to compete.