San Mateo County’s small airport in San Carlos is expected to do big business this weekend as charter reservations are way up leading to Sunday’s Super Bowl in Santa Clara.
There has been a steady uptick in flights this week with peak traffic expected Friday night and Saturday, said Christopher St. Peter, San Mateo County Airports’ assistant manager.
Flights will be coming in from Mexico and Canada, he said, but most will be coming from the Denver area loaded with fans rooting for the Broncos.
The Federal Aviation Administration is handling all reservations into the county-owned airport as an estimated 1 million visitors are expected in the Bay Area this weekend.
Whether it will be the busiest week in the airport’s history won’t be known until Monday or Tuesday morning after most of the charter flights have departed, Airports Division Manager Gretchen Kelly said.
Although the FAA has put some flight restrictions in place for the Super Bowl, the airport’s regular carriers such as Surf Air will continue to operate normally.
There may be some slight delays, however.
The other county-owned airport, the Half Moon Bay Airport, will not see the same uptick as San Carlos has, Kelly said.
There are currently no restrictions to fly into Half Moon Bay but the airport has less amenities, Kelly said.
“Once you get their, you are on your own. Those who book charter flights have high expectations,” Kelly said about the remote airport.
Extra vans and luggage carts are on hand in San Carlos to shuttle the extra passengers.
The Transportation Security Administration will also provide extra security at the airport during the Super Bowl.
“There’s a higher alert for security,” St. Peter said.
Early Thursday morning, charter planes filled the parking lot in front of the terminal building.
The airport is open 24 hours a day but there haven’t been any reservations made for after 9:30 p.m., at least not yet. That depends on the FAA and how it manages air traffic.
The San Carlos Airport “is always busy,” St. Peter said. “We go up and down with the economy.”
From single-passenger planes to jets carrying many passengers, the airport handles about 150,000 takeoffs a year, he said.
Most of the normal traffic to and from the airport comes from Southern California, Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe, Oregon and Washington state, St. Peter said.
But this weekend, the traffic will be from Colorado with passengers likely decked out in orange ready to root on Peyton Manning and the Broncos as they battle Cam Newton and the Panthers.
No flights are expected to come in from North Carolina.
“It’s just too far away,” St. Peter said.