Santa Monica Airport Operators Forced Out By December 12

Airport will close temporarily to complete runway shortening project.

Santa Monica Airport
An aerial view of Santa Monica Airport.Pia Bergqvist

In about two weeks, Santa Monica Municipal Airport (SMO) will close to allow for the planned shortening of Runway 3-21. Operators of many airplanes that are based at and frequent the nearly 100-year-old airport will have to find new alternatives.

Since the runway-shortening project began on October 23, the airport has been closed nightly from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m., Monday through Friday. The airport will be closed day and night for a period of 10 days beginning on December 12 at 9 p.m. When the airport reopens at 7 a.m. on December 23, the available runway will have been reduced from nearly 5,000 feet to 3,500 feet — a distance too short for many of the business jets that have frequented the airport for decades.

“NBAA members and operators that are unable to operate on a 3,500-foot runway, should plan to relocate their aircraft on or before December 12,” said Alex Gertsen, NBAA’s director of airports and infrastructure. 736 feet will be designated as unusable through pre-threshold area markings, shown as yellow chevrons, prior to the runway thresholds for both Runway 3 and 21.

The City of Santa Monica chose to go ahead with the shortening of the runway, which was approved by the FAA in January of this year, despite pending litigation by several aviation organizations and affected parties at the airport, fighting the legality of the agreement. The airport is scheduled to close completely on December 31, 2028.