Fresno Yosemite International Airport
Fresno Yosemite International Airport (FAT) is a joint civil-military airport in California’s Great Central Valley. Serving more than 1.2 million passengers each year, FAT is situated on 1,728 acres on Fresno’s east side. Fresno is a gateway city to Yosemite National Park and the Sierra Nevada mountain range to the east and the Coast Range and Pacific Ocean to the west.
Fresno Yosemite Airport Facts
The airport ranks 111th out of the country’s 847 airports for passenger/flight volume, although most of the airport’s use is for private aircraft. Nearly eight percent of FAT’s traffic is for commercial passenger flight and almost seven percent is for military operations. Air taxi service accounts for 19 percent of the airport’s traffic, 27 percent is local general aviation and nearly 40 percent is out-of-area general aviation. Owned by the City of Fresno, the airport earns about $12.5 million each year. About 45 percent of that revenue comes from car rentals, concessions, and parking.
Military and Government Use
The Fresno Air National Guard and the California National Guard’s 144th Fighter Win, occupy the airport’s main base area and its munitions storage area. Twenty-six of the airport’s 170 FAT-based aircraft are for military use.
In addition to its military use, the California Department of Forestry and US Forest Service use the airport to deploy aerial tankers to combat forest fires in the region. The Air Attack Base responds to about 100 fires each year and can accommodate up to eight aircraft at a time.
Facilities at the Airport
The airport consists of two runways, both made of asphalt, and a 70-foot helipad. The facility’s runways and helipad are used for more than 370 aircraft operations each day.
For commercial passengers driving to the airport, FAT houses three parking lots: a short-term lot, a long-term parking area, and a cell phone lot. The cell phone lot provides 12 parking spaces on the terminal’s east side, along the north side of the airport entry road.
Nine passenger airlines operate at FAT, including United Airlines, Allegiant Air and Delta/SkyWest. FedEx, United Parcel Service, and Ameriflight operate cargo flights at the airport.
Often an innovator, the airport houses a 2.8-megawatt solar panel system. Installed in 2008, the system was the largest airport solar system in the country at the time it was planned. It was also the first airport in the nation to offer a wireless, web-based flight information display system. The system shows active arrivals and departures for commercial passengers. FAT also uses one of the most advanced landing system’s in the country, enabling pilots to land in reduced-visibility conditions.
Over the years, the airport remained committed to providing up-to-date services to its commercial passengers. Today’s airport includes an information center, five restaurants/cafes, a convenience store, a barbershop, and free wireless Internet access. Six national rental car companies operate at the new consolidated rental car center. Taxis are allowed to gather at the terminal’s curbside to further serve arriving passengers. FAT also rents its terminal conference room for out-of-area and local businesses.
History of the Airport
Fresno’s airport began as Hammer Field, a US military airfield for Army and Air Force use in World War II. In 1948, the airport added commercial traffic, prompting a name change to Fresno Air Terminal. Several renovations and changes have occurred over the years, including construction of a new terminal in 1962. The facility’s name was changed again in 1996 to reflect the addition of international flights and the airport’s proximity to three national parks. A two-story concourse was built in 2002 and a new US inspection center was constructed in 2006. In 2010, a $17 million renovation and modernization project was completed as was a $27 million car rental facility consolidation. In 2012, the airport completed a $35 million project that included strengthening and increasing the size of one of its runways.
Airlines Serving Fresno Airport
Fresno Yosemite International Airport serves the Central Valley of California and is the airport closest to Yosemite National Park. It has a single terminal with seventeen gates, and United Airlines has the most flights to and from Fresno.
Eight passenger airlines serve Fresno Yosemite International Airport in total, though none have it as a hub. AeroMexico and Volaris provide international direct flights to Mexico, and Allegiant Air provides direct flights to Honolulu, Hawaii. Alaska, United, American, US Airways, and Delta also provide direct flights, namely to their hub cities, but also to other non-hub destinations.
Non-stop flights from Fresno Yosemite International Airport depart and arrive from twelve different cities throughout the western United States. There are also flights to Guadalajara, Mexico, on AeroMexico and Volaris. Alaska Airlines serves Seattle, Portland, and San Diego directly from Fresno.
A few airlines operate single routes out of Fresno Yosemite International Airport, including US Airways, which provides service directly between Fresno and its hub in Phoenix, and Delta Airlines, which flies to and from Fresno to its hub in Salt Lake City. American Airlines also shuttles passengers from Fresno Yosemite International Airport to its hub in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, as well as Los Angeles. Additionally, United Airlines provides direct flights from Fresno Yosemite International Airport to its hub in Denver, as well as Las Vegas, a route that is also served by Allegiant Air. United Airlines also flies a few routes within California, including from Fresno to Los Angeles and San Francisco. The cities flying directly to Fresno Yosemite International Airport are the same as to which there are direct departures.
Flights depart from and arrive to Fresno Yosemite International Airport throughout the day, though the majority of departures take place in the morning, allowing passengers to take connecting flights to cities not served directly. Arrivals take place throughout the morning and evening hours.