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San Francisco Travel Presents 2016 Silver Cable Car Award to San Francisco International Airport Director John L. Martin


June 1, 2016 -- At its 106th Annual Luncheon meeting, the San Francisco Travel Association presented the Silver Cable Car Award to San Francisco International Airport (SFO) Director John L. Martin.

Since 1965, San Francisco Travel has presented the Silver Cable Car award to an individual or organization that has made a significant contribution to San Francisco’s visitor industry. Past recipients have included: Monique Moyer, executive director of the Port of San Francisco; author Armistead Maupin; the San Francisco Giants; the San Francisco Pride Celebration; Steve Silver, creator of “Beach Blanket Babylon” and United Airlines.

In presenting the award San Francisco Travel President and CEO Joe D’Alessandro said, “Keeping SFO not only operational but also exemplary is a job that takes tremendous dedication, vision and leadership. For twenty years, SFO had all that and more in its airport director.   John Martin believed just as strongly as any of us that San Francisco is the greatest destination in the world. And he believed that an indispensable part of bringing people here was making sure there was a state-of-the-art airport waiting to serve them. San Francisco International Airport is what it is today because of John Martin, and every one of us in this room has benefited from his vision.”

Martin was first appointed Airport Director in 1995 by then-San Francisco Mayor Frank Jordan and served as SFO’s chief executive under Mayors Willie Brown, Gavin Newsom and current San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee. Prior to his appointment as director, he served as SFO’s Deputy Airport Director for Business and Finance. In all, Martin spent 35 years at SFO.

During the early years, Martin oversaw the completion of a $3.5 billion capital plan that included construction of the now iconic International Terminal, a BART extension to the airport, new parking garages and the Air Train people mover system. During the mid-1990s, this was the largest public construction project in the United States.

A series of world events, starting with the September 11, 2001, attacks, precipitated a dramatic 26 percent drop in SFO’s traffic from 40 million passengers per annum in 2000 to around 26 million a few years later just as many of the new facilities were coming on line.

SFO responded by cutting costs, finding new sources of non-airline revenue and increasing the number of international and low-cost carriers. 

Since then, the Airport has added 25 new international carriers and several new low-cost carriers, including the home-basing of Virgin America. For the past seven years, SFO has been one of the fastest growing airports in the world – currently approaching a record 50 million passengers per year, and is the top concession revenue producer per passenger of any U.S. airport.

Other key accomplishments at SFO under Mr. Martin’s direction include:

  • Opening the first LEED Gold terminal in the world in 2011 – Terminal 2.
  • Being a leader in the industry for safety and security technologies and practices, including operating the first in-line security baggage screening system in the world; which is now the industry standard.
  • Instituting fair and living wages for all service and security providers at SFO, beginning in 1999. The current wage standard is $13.52 per hour.
  • Requiring that all door-to-door vans, shuttles and many commercial buses serving the Airport use green fuels.
  • Reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by 34 percent from 1990 emission levels.
  • Creating a culture of health and wellness among all employees, leading to SFO being named one of the healthiest places to work by the San Francisco Business Times.
  • Providing unique guest services, such as locally owned restaurants and retail stores, yoga rooms, and an accredited art program and museum. 

The San Francisco Travel Association is a private, not-for-profit organization that markets the city as a leisure, convention and business travel destination.  With more than 1,500 partner businesses, San Francisco Travel is one of the largest membership-based tourism promotion agencies in the country. 

Tourism, San Francisco's largest industry, generated record-breaking numbers in 2015.  More than 24.6 million people visited the destination, spending in excess of $9.3 billion. More than 76,520 jobs are supported by tourism in San Francisco. 

The San Francisco Travel business offices are located at One Front St., Suite 2900, San Francisco, CA 94111.  

San Francisco Travel also operates Visitor Information Centers at Hallidie Plaza, 900 Market Street at the corner of Powell and Market streets and on the lower level of Macy’s Union Square.  For more information, visit

San Francisco International Airport (SFO) offers non-stop flights to more than 39 international cities on 33 international carriers. The Bay Area's largest airport connects non-stop with 77 cities in the U.S. on 14 domestic airlines. SFO is proud to offer upgraded free Wi-Fi with no advertising. For up-to-the-minute departure and arrival information, airport maps and details on shopping, dining, cultural exhibitions, ground transportation and more, visit Follow SFO on and

American Express® is the official Card partner of the San Francisco Travel Association.

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