Fight to Keep Santa Monica Airport Open Heads Back to Federal Court

NBAA is leading an effort to overturn a settlement between the FAA and city of Santa Monica that would see the airport close after 2028.

For aviation interests that have battled for years to keep Santa Monica Airport open, the fight is far from over. The National Business Aviation Association is leading an effort to overturn an agreement between the FAA and the city of Santa Monica that would see the airport close after 2028.

NBAA, along with the Santa Monica Airport Association and four airport tenants, asked a federal appeals court on Monday to review the recent settlement agreement, which seeks to end decades of litigation over the embattled Southern California airport.

“Santa Monica’s airport is a vital asset to our aviation system, both locally as well as nationally, and serves as a critical transportation lifeline for the entire Los Angeles basin,” said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen. “NBAA remains committed to aggressively supporting unrestricted business aviation access to SMO, through this petition and other available channels.”

The FAA and the Santa Monica City Council agreed to allow the airport to close after Dec. 31, 2028, and the 4,973-foot runway to be shortened immediately to 3,500 feet, a move that would prevent most large business jets from using the airport. The City Council has said the runway will be shortened within months.

Also joining the appeal in the District of Columbia Circuit were four airport tenants, Bill’s Air Center Inc., Kim Davidson Aviation Inc., Redgate Partners LLC and Wonderful Citrus LLC.

The FAA reached its agreement with the City Council after government lawyers concluded that a negative ruling in federal court could imperil other airports with agreements similar to those in place at Santa Monica.

Separately, NBAA and other interests continue to pursue several ongoing administrative complaints — not covered under the settlement — over the city’s federally mandated obligations.

This includes a Part 16 complaint alleging that the city has mishandled airport finances, landing fees and other terms by failing to offer leases to aviation-related businesses on the field.


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