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Fresno Yosemite International Airport

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Fresno Yosemite International Airport
Fresno airport CA - 17 Aug 1998.jpg
USGS aerial image, 1998
Airport typePublic / Military
OwnerCity of Fresno
OperatorCity of Fresno Airports Division
ServesFresno, California
Elevation AMSL336 ft / 102 m
Coordinates36°46′36″N 119°43′08″W / 36.77667°N 119.71889°W / 36.77667; -119.71889Coordinates: 36°46′36″N 119°43′08″W / 36.77667°N 119.71889°W / 36.77667; -119.71889
Runway Diagram
Runway Diagram
FAT is located in Fresno, California
FAT is located in California
FAT is located in the United States
Direction Length Surface
ft m
11L/29R 9,539 2,907 Asphalt
11R/29L 8,008 2,441 Asphalt
Statistics (2016)
Aircraft operations13,228

Fresno Yosemite International Airport (IATA: FAT, ICAO: KFAT, FAA LID: FAT), is a joint civil-military airport in Fresno, California. It is the primary commercial airport serving the San Joaquin Valley and three national parks, Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon. It offers scheduled passenger flights to several major airline hubs in the western United States and international service to Mexico. The airport is owned and operated by the city of Fresno and covers 1,728 acres (699 ha) and maintains two runways and one helipad. Its airport code 'FAT' stands for "Fresno Air Terminal," a former name for the airport.

The facility opened in June 1942 as Hammer Field, a military airfield. Due to its central location, the airport is home to several military, law enforcement, firefighting, and medical air units. The Fresno Air National Guard Base on the southeast corner of the airport is home to the 144th Fighter Wing of the California Air National Guard. The Fresno Air Attack Base on the eastern side of the airport supports aerial firefighting aircraft. Other government and military operators include the California Army National Guard, the California Highway Patrol, the Fresno County Sheriff's Office, and the Fresno Police Department.


The Fresno Yosemite International Airport opened as a military airfield in June 1942, just six months after Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, leading the United States to enter World War II. The new airfield was named Hammer Field and was used by the United States Army Air Forces as a training facility for the new pilots of the Fourth Air Force. It had a single northwest/southeast oriented runway with a length of 7,200 feet (now runway 11L/29R).[3]

At the same time, civil and commercial aviation used renamed Chandler Field that opened in November 1929.[4] Chandler is located just 1½ miles west of downtown Fresno, but is on a relatively small site. Less than a decade after it was open, it was already clear that small runway at Chandler would not be able to accommodate the increasingly larger airplanes used by the commercial airlines.

After World War II, Hammer Field was inactivated by the Army Air Forces, and the city of Fresno saw an opportunity to use the site to create a commercial airport much larger than Chandler Field. In 1946 the War Assets Administration reallocated the property to the city, which immediately began construction on a passenger terminal on the northeast side of the airfield. In 1948, the newly renamed Fresno Air Terminal (FAT) opened. Trans World Airlines (TWA) and United Airlines flights to San Francisco/Oakland and Los Angeles moved from Chandler Field to the newly opened airport. Chandler Field was retained as a reliever airport and continues to operate as the Fresno Chandler Executive Airport.

The California Air National Guard moved to the airport in 1950s and established the Fresno Air National Guard Base on the southeast corner of the airport. The guard also built munition storage bunkers along the northern edge of the airport.[5] The 194th Fighter Squadron moved to the facility in late 1954, followed by the 144th Fighter Wing in 1957.[6] As the guard moved in, the second parallel runway 11R/29L was also constructed and opened to traffic in 1956.

The current passenger terminal started to come together in 1959 along the southern portion of the airport.[3] The main building was comprised of three areas: a baggage claim area, the central lobby, and the ticketing area. Although it has been significantly renovated, that building still stands today and still serves the same functions. From the central lobby passengers used an underground tunnel to reach the open-air, remote concourse where they boarded planes from ground level boarding gates.

The current Air Traffic Control Tower was also constructed around the same time as the passenger terminal and opened shortly after in 1961.

The jet age arrived in Fresno in 1966 when Pacific Air Lines became the first airline to schedule jet service to the airport. The airline used the Boeing 727-100 to operate nonstop service to both Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The first major expansion to the passenger terminal came in 1978 when a concourse was built straight out from the central lobby. This building, unlike the original remote concourse, was both enclosed and climate controlled.

In the 1970s and 1980s service to Fresno was split evenly between major air carriers using mainline jets, primarily the Boeing 727, Boeing 737 and Douglas DC-8 and regional airlines using smaller aircraft. Most service was operated to major airline hubs in the Western United States or other airports in California. This time period also saw service using the Douglas Super DC-8 series 61, which with over 200 seats, is the largest airliner ever scheduled into Fresno.

In 1988, the FAA designated the Fresno Air Terminal an "International Point of Entry," allowing flights from other countries to land at the airport and clear customs and immigration. Despite the designation, scheduled international commercial flights would not begin for nearly two decades.

In the 1990s, reflecting a national trend, there was a shift to smaller regional jet and turboprop aircraft operated by regional airlines on behalf of mainline air carriers; however, mainline jets still continued to serve Fresno.

Fresno has been the headquarters for at least three airlines. In the mid-1980's Far West Airlines was founded in Fresno and used the airport as a small intrastate hub serving Burbank, Los Angeles, Modesto, Oakland, Orange County, Sacramento and San Jose.[7] Air 21 was founded in Fresno in January 1994 and operated service between several western cities before ceasing operations in January 1997.[8] Allegiant Air was founded in Fresno in January 1997 and its headquarters were located in the city until it declared bankruptcy in 2000, and the new CEO moved its headquarters to a suburb of Las Vegas.

In 1996, the airport's name was changed from Fresno Air Terminal to Fresno Yosemite International Airport in an effort to attract out-of-state and international visitors to Yosemite National Park to the airport. At the time, airport managers petitioned the FAA for a new identifier code to replace FAT, which carries a negative connotation and no longer matched the initials of the airport. The request was denied, with the FAA reaffirming its long-standing policy to only issue a new identifier code when an airport physically moves to another location (such as in 1995 when Denver Airport moved from Stapleton).[9]

At the turn of the 21st century, the city began an ambitious series of projects that would expand and completely remodel the airport.

The first and most notable project was the expansion of the concourse building. The project, designed by DMJM Aviation extended the terminal further northeast and created a new two-level section with six jetbridges. Before this project passengers boarded all planes using stairs or ramps. Completed in 2002, the new concourse building received praise for its design and was named one of the top 10 projects in Fresno Architecture for the decade with critics commending the use of steel and the curved glass facade.[10]

A new Federal Inspection Services facility for international arrivals was completed in early 2006, giving federal officials space to check passports and complete customs work. Completion of that facility allowed Fresno to begin receiving scheduled international commercial flights. The first international service started in April 2006 with Mexicana operating flights between Fresno and Mexico City with an intermediate stop in Guadalajara.[11]

False sequoia trees inside the terminal

With the new concourse extension and international arrivals facilities completed, older portions of the terminal building were given a major renovation. The project was designed CSHQA and completed in several phases lasting between 2006 and 2010. While keeping the facility operational, nearly every part of the building was updated including the baggage claim area, security checkpoint, central lobby, ticketing area, and low-level concourse. The centerpiece of the project was the construction of a life-size, replica sequoia forest in central lobby, reflecting the airport's role as a gateway to the nearby national parks. The giant trees appear to be supporting the roof of the terminal and are surrounded by the split rail fencing and granite curbs that visitors see at national parks.[12][13][14]

A consolidated rental car facility was opened at the airport in 2009. The $22 million dollar project allows customers of most rental car companies to pickup and drop-off vehicles just outside the terminal. The project also included the construction of maintenance buildings and storage lots on a nearby, 11 acre site.[15]

Direct international service from Fresno briefly ended in August 2010 when Mexicana ceased operations. International service resumed, with more flights, less than a year later when both Aeroméxico and Volaris added service between Fresno and Guadalajara in April 2011.[16][17]

The secondary runway, 11R/29L was widened, lengthened and strengthened in a $30 million dollar project completed in October 2012.[18]

Airline service[edit]

File:Alaska SkyWest E75 in Fresno.jpg
Alaska Airlines Embrear 175 operated by SkyWest Airlines parked at the gate at Fresno Yosemite International Airport. SkyWest is a major operator from Fresno with a maintenance facility and aircrew base located at the airport.

The majority of scheduled commercial flights to Fresno use smaller regional jet aircraft operated by regional airlines and the airport is a major operations base for SkyWest Airlines, the nation's largest regional airline. Fresno does still see mainline jet service on the busiest routes and while only a few international flights to Mexico are operated each day, they are some of the airport's most well patronized.

SkyWest carried over 60 percent of the passenger traffic between September 2016 and August 2017.[19] The regional airline operates under contract with mainline partners as American Eagle, Alaska SkyWest, Delta Connection and United Express. SkyWest has a 17-acre maintenance and overnight parking facility on the east side of the airfield with 21 aircraft positions, and an approximately 92,000 square foot hangar.[3] SkyWest also uses Fresno as a crew base for pilots and flight attendants.

Mainline air carrier service includes Allegiant Air service to Las Vegas operated with the Airbus A320, American Airlines service to Dallas/Fort Worth operated with the Boeing 737-800, and United Airlines service to San Francisco with the Boeing 737-800. Frontier Airlines is scheduled to add mainline jet service to Denver with the Airbus A319 in May 2018.

International carriers also use mainline jets on their service to Mexico. Aeroméxico and Volaris both operate service between Fresno and Guadalajara, Mexico's second-largest city and a major airline hub in the country. Additionally, Volaris also operates service to Morelia, the capitol and largest city in Mexico's Michoacán state. Direct international flights from Fresno began on April 1, 2006 and have become some of the airports busiest flights. As of 2016, international service on Aeroméxico and Volaris accounted for about six percent of all flights to Fresno, but carried more than 13 percent of all passengers flying to the airport, a combined total of almost 201,000 people.[20]

Fresno is the largest city in the continental United States not served by Southwest Airlines.[21]

The longest continuously operating carrier out of Fresno Yosemite International Airport is United Airlines, which was one of the original airlines to serve the airport. For about two decades, United did not operating mainline service to Fresno, shifting service to its regional airline partner SkyWest, which operates flights as United Express in the mid-1990's. United resumed mainline jet service on August 15, 2017 between Fresno and its hub in San Francisco, reflecting the increased traffic on the route.[22]

Facilities and aircraft[edit]

Check-in counters

Fresno Yosemite International Airport covers 1,728 acres (699 ha) at an elevation of 336 ft (102 m) above mean sea level, with two paved asphalt runways: 11L/29R (primary) and 11R/29L (secondary). Runway 11L/29R is 9,539 by 150 ft (2,907 by 46 m), and runway 11R/29L is 8,008 by 150 ft (2,441 by 46 m).[1]

For the year ending March 31, 2017 the airport had 99,559 aircraft operations, an average of 273 per day: 61% general aviation, 18% scheduled commercial, 15% air taxi, and 6% military. At that time there were 179 aircraft based at the airport: 56% single-engine, 14% multi-engine, 13% military, 9% jet, and 7% helicopter.[1]

Airlines and destinations[edit]


Domestic destinations from Fresno Yosemite International Airport
Aeroméxico Guadalajara
Alaska Airlines
operated by Horizon Air
Alaska Airlines
operated by SkyWest Airlines
Portland (OR), San Diego, Seattle/Tacoma
Allegiant Air Las Vegas
American Airlines Dallas/Fort Worth
Seasonal: Phoenix –Sky Harbor
American Eagle Los Angeles, Phoenix–Sky Harbor
Delta Connection Salt Lake City
Frontier Airlines Seasonal: Denver (begins May 22, 2018)[23]
United Airlines San Francisco
United Express Chicago–O'Hare (begins June 7, 2018),[24] Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco
Volaris Guadalajara, Morelia


Ameriflight Oakland, Santa Maria, Visalia
FedEx Express Denver, Grand Junction, Memphis, Oakland[25]
Seasonal: Los Angeles[25]
UPS Airlines Ontario, Portland (OR)[26]
Seasonal: Louisville[27]


Top destinations[edit]

Busiest domestic routes from FAT (September 2016 – August 2017)[19]
Rank City Passengers Carriers
1 Phoenix, Arizona 105,000 American, American Eagle
2 Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas 96,000 American
3 Los Angeles, California 86,000 American Eagle, United Express
4 Denver, Colorado 61,000 United Express
5 San Francisco, California 60,000 United Airlines, United Express
6 Seattle–Tacoma, Washington 57,000 Alaska
7 Las Vegas, Nevada 56,000 Allegiant
8 Salt Lake City, Utah 51,000 Delta Connection
9 San Diego, California 45,000 Alaska
10 Portland, Oregon 22,000 Alaska

Annual passenger traffic[edit]

In 2016, Fresno Yosemite International Airport had 1,540,623 departing and arriving passengers, representing a 10% increase from 2015.[28]

In 2015, Fresno Yosemite International Airport totaled 1,408,922 passengers, marking a notable 21% increase in passengers since 2009.[29]

In 2014, 1,442,026 passengers flew through Fresno Yosemite International Airport, breaking the previous record from 2013.[30]

In 2013, 1,401,582 passengers arrived and departed through Fresno Yosemite International Airport, exceeding the previous record of 1,318,493 passengers in 2007 by 6.3%. This increase is contributed to the introduction of larger jet aircraft and new destinations. Flights to and from Fresno Yosemite International Airport averaged a load factor of 82% in 2013.[31]

In 2011 over 1.2 million passengers traveled through Fresno Yosemite International Airport, a 6.4% increase from 2010.

Fresno completed 2006 with 1.281 million passengers traveling through Fresno Yosemite International Airport, an increase of 7.54% over 2005.

Fresno completed 2007 with 1.382 million passengers traveling through Fresno Yosemite International Airport, an increase of 3.13% over 2006.

Military and government operations[edit]

The 144th Fighter Wing of the California Air National Guard is based out of the Fresno Yosemite International Airport.[32] The California Army National Guard also maintains an Aviation Classification Repair Activity Depot (AVCRAD) at the airport. The mission of this unit is to perform high level maintenance and repair on Army aircraft. Its jurisdiction covers a 15-state region in the Western United States.

Both the U.S. Forest Service and the California Department of Forestry operate an Air Attack Base at the airport for fighting forest fires with aerial tankers.

Ground transportation and access[edit]


The airport is located about a mile away from California State Route 180 (SR 180), with vehicles using Peach Avenue to connect between the airport and the highway. California State Route 180 connects to all of the other freeways in the Fresno area, California State Route 41, California State Route 99, and California State Route 168. Yosemite National Park can be accessed by California State Route 41 and Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park can be accessed by California State Route 180.


The city of Fresno offers paid on-site parking in a large lot located just west of the airport. The lot is divided into a short term area with 283 stalls and a long term area with 1879 stalls.[33] There is also a separate cell phone waiting lot located off the airport's main driveway with 47 stalls, designated for drivers waiting for arriving passengers.[33]

Public transportation[edit]

Fresno Area Express (FAX) operates two public transit buses to the airport, each with half-hourly service.[34] Route 26 Palm / Butler runs between the airport and North Fresno via Southeast and Downtown Fresno (where passengers may transfer to other FAX routes). Route 39 FYI/Clinton runs between the airport and West Fresno.

The City of Visalia operates the V-Line bus between the airport and the Visalia Transit Center (where passengers can connect to Visalia Transit routes) and the Visalia Airport (which offers V-Line passengers free long-term parking for up to ten days).[35][36]

Rental car facility[edit]

The airport offers a consolidated rental car facility at the north end of the terminal. Nine rental car companies have passenger service counters inside the terminal near the baggage claim area and up to 400 cars can be parked in a lot just north of the terminal building.[15] The 11-acre rental car facility opened in 2009 and was built at a cost of US $22 million which will be paid for by fees on car rentals.

Accidents and incidents[edit]

On September 13, 2015, an MD-87 of Aero Air LLC had an engine failure after taking off from Fresno Yosemite International Airport. Pieces of the engine struck a car, damaging it. The aircraft was able to return to the airport safely.[37]

On December 14, 1994, a private jet on a military training mission, attempting to land at Fresno, crashed on a Fresno street and careened into a crowded apartment complex. The plane, piloted by two civilians and belonging to a Georgia-based company, Phoenix Air, had finished chasing an F-16 fighter during a war game shortly before noon. The plane was returning to the Fresno airport when the crew radioed the tower about engine trouble. The aircraft attempted to land on a city street, however struck several power poles and then crashed into an apartment complex on Olive Ave. Both crew members, and at least one person on the ground were killed; however, the exact number of ground fatalities is still currently unknown.[38]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 FAA Airport Master Record for FAT (Form 5010 PDF). Federal Aviation Administration. Effective December 7, 2017.
  2. "Statistics". Fresno Yosemite International Airport. January 2016. Retrieved June 1, 2016.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Fresno Airports Master Plan - Working Paper #2: Inventory (PDF). Kimley-Horn. May 2017. Retrieved November 2, 2017.
  4. "Fresno Chandler Executive Airport Website". www.flyfresno.com. Retrieved November 2, 2017.
  5. "Inside the 144th FW". 144th Fighter Wing, California Air National Guard. 2010. Retrieved December 23, 2010.
  6. "History of the 144th". Air National Guard - 144th Fighter Wing. February 4, 2013. Retrieved November 2, 2017.
  7. http://www.departedflights.com, Sept. 17, 1984 route map
  8. "Air 21 Mar. 4, 1996 system timetable and route map". Departedflights.com.
  9. Fresno Yosemite International (2010). "Frequently Asked Questions". City of Fresno. Archived from the original on March 20, 2011. Retrieved December 23, 2010.
  10. "Decade in Review: Top 10 in Fresno Architecture". archop. December 31, 2009. Archived from the original on February 26, 2013. Retrieved May 1, 2013.
  11. "Mexicana Airlines Introduces First International Service between Mexico and Fresno". March 27, 2006. Retrieved December 16, 2017.
  12. "Sequoia Trees Create Unique Sense of Place at Fresno Yosemite International Airport" (PDF). CSHQA. July 27, 2009. Retrieved December 16, 2017.
  13. "Fresno Yosemite International Airport Terminal Renovation". CSHQA. Retrieved December 16, 2017.
  14. Roebbelen Contracting
  15. 15.0 15.1 "Rental Car Facility (ConRAC) at Fresno-Yosemite International Airport (FAT)". PGAL. March 8, 2016. Retrieved September 25, 2017.
  16. "Volaris to Start Flying from FYI to Mexico". WorldNow / KMPH. March 1, 2011. Retrieved March 4, 2011.
  17. Sheehan, Tim (March 10, 2011). "Aeroméxico to start Fresno flights April 4". The Fresno Bee. Retrieved March 10, 2011.
  18. "Airports $35 Million Improvements Award Provide Economic Boost to Valley" (Press release). Fresno Yosemite International Airport. September 29, 2011. Retrieved June 29, 2012.
  19. 19.0 19.1 "RITA | BTS | Transtats: Fresno, CA: Fresno Yosemite International (FAT)". Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Retrieved November 30, 2017.
  20. Sheehan, Tim (October 25, 2017). "Volaris adds second Mexico flight destination from Fresno airport". The Fresno Bee. Retrieved December 17, 2017.
  21. Sheryl (June 18, 2011). "Test Your Knowledge of Southwest Airlines on Their 40th Birthday Which is Today". Flyertalk. Retrieved May 20, 2013.
  22. Sheehan, Tim (May 8, 2017). "United to add flight, seats to Fresno-San Francisco service". The Fresno Bee. Retrieved December 17, 2017.
  23. https://www.flyfrontier.com/plan-and-book/route-map/
  24. Sheehan, Tim (November 20, 2017). "Chicago will be new airline connection for Fresno travelers". The Fresno Bee. Retrieved November 20, 2017.
  25. 25.0 25.1 http://www2.alpa.org/fdx/jumpseat/
  26. https://inside.ipapilot.org/tools/jumpseats/index.php
  27. http://inside.ipapilot.org/tools/jumpseats/index.php
  28. http://www.flyfresno.com/press/read/article/69
  29. http://flyfresno.com/press/read/article/51
  30. "Security Check Required". Facebook.
  31. https://www.flyfresno.com/documents/Jan%202014%20Record%20Breaking%20Passengers.pdf
  32. "Fresno Air National Guard Base". Global Security. 2005. Retrieved March 5, 2011.
  33. 33.0 33.1 "Parking map". Fresno Yosemite International Airport. Retrieved September 25, 2017.
  34. "Department of Transportation | FAX Routes & Schedules". www.fresno.gov. Retrieved September 25, 2017.
  35. "Visalia Transit rolls out V-Line service". Visalia Times-Delta. November 17, 2015. Retrieved September 25, 2017.
  36. "V-LINE | Your connection to Fresno from Visalia". ridevline.com. Archived from the original on 2016-01-13. Retrieved September 25, 2017.
  37. "Report that pieces of metal fell from Erickson MD-87 air tanker over Fresno, California". Fire Aviation.
  38. "At Least 3 Killed as Plane Crashes on Fresno Street : Accident: Learjet has engine trouble while returning to airport. It slams into apartment complex, creating grim scene of destruction". latimes.

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