NBAA, AOPA Defend Santa Monica Airport

Groups support motion for courts to drop lawsuit.

In their continued efforts to protect the future of one of the most highly threatened airports in the country, Santa Monica Municipal Airport, NBAA and AOPA have jointly filed an amicus brief in the U.S. District Court of Los Angeles supporting a motion filed by the FAA on January 10 to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the city of Santa Monica, which insists the city owns the rights to govern over the use of the property currently occupied by the airport. The city claims it intends to turn the property into a park.

The amicus brief points out the city’s obligation to the government to maintain the airport in operation, highlights the importance of Santa Monica Airport to the national air transportation system and warns the courts that the closure of SMO could create safety and congestion issues at nearby airports. While the city’s efforts to reduce the number of operations at the airport by imposing landing fees has resulted in a 23 percent decrease in operations in the five year period from 2008 to 2013, the airport still sees more than 95,000 operations annually, according to the FAA’s Air Traffic Activity System statistics.

In addition, the brief claims the closure of the airport would eliminate about 1,500 jobs and $240 million of annual economic output. “We believe it is critical that the judge in this case understand that there is more at stake in this case than whether this piece of property stays an airport or not,” said Ken Mead, AOPA’s general counsel.

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