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.