2014 Press Releases

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NBAA Vows to Continue Fighting for Santa Monica Airport

Contact: Dan Hubbard, (202) 783-9360, dhubbard@nbaa.org

Washington, DC, Nov. 5, 2014 – The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) today reiterated its long-standing commitment to ensuring unfettered access to California’s Santa Monica Municipal Airport (SMO), despite the outcome over proposals regarding SMO’s future, which were included on yesterday’s election ballot.

“While we are disappointed by yesterday’s results, airports in the United States are subject to federal laws and Santa Monica is no exception,” said Ed Bolen, NBAA president and CEO. “NBAA has worked for decades to retain this important asset in our federal airport network, and we will continue to fight to ensure that the airport lives up to its obligations, and that business aviation continues to have access to the facility.”

Santa Monica voters rejected an NBAA-supported initiative known as Measure D by a 58.3 percent “no” margin. Measure D would have required a public vote before the city could restrict access to or completely or partially close the airport, obligating the city of Santa Monica to continue operating the airport “in a manner that supports its aviation purposes” and stipulating that the city cannot impose new restrictions that would “inhibit the sale of fuel or the full use of aviation facilities.” The initiative had been placed on the ballot after more than 15,500 signatures were submitted to city officials in June.

Santa Monica residents instead voted to allow the city council to continue making decisions regarding SMO. Airport advocates have long noted that developing the airport property with high-rise buildings, dense housing or other structures could significantly increase – not decrease – congestion and air pollution.

Over the past 50 years, the city has repeatedly attempted to restrict operations at SMO. Each time, NBAA has actively fought to preserve access to the airport, and each prior case has been determined in favor of the federal government and airport users.

“It is unfortunate that the ballot initiative outcome allows Santa Monica city officials to continue their long-standing attempts to close their community airport, which fly in the face of their legal obligations and disregard the importance of the airport as a general aviation gateway to Southern California,” Bolen said. “NBAA will continue its long history of working to ensure that the airport remains open and functional, so that it can enable time-sensitive medical and mercy flights, ensure preparedness in the event of a natural disaster, relieve congestion at commercial airports, foster commerce, enhance safety and generate jobs.”

The city has received significant federal funding for airport improvements over the years. As recently as 2003, Santa Monica accepted federal funding that obligates the city to keep the airport open and viable for another 20 years. Nonetheless, the city contends that these grant-based obligations ended in June 2014 and are extended only to July 2015 by another agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Most recently, the Santa Monica City Council indicated that it may begin offering only short-term lease extensions to airport tenants, and it is considering prohibiting some aeronautical activities, such as fuel sales or flight training – all of which would violate its binding grant obligations.

“Santa Monica Airport is an important part of our national airport system,” said Bolen. “On behalf of our Members, NBAA will continue to support all efforts to keep SMO open and accessible for those who rely on it.”

SMO, an essential reliever airport for the Los Angeles basin area, provides an economic input of more than $250 million to the local economy each year and supports 175 businesses and 1,500 jobs.

Read more about NBAA’s long-standing work to preserve access to SMO.

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Founded in 1947 and based in Washington, DC, the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) is the leading organization for companies that rely on general aviation aircraft to help make their businesses more efficient, productive and successful. The Association represents more than 10,000 companies and provides more than 100 products and services to the business aviation community, including the NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition, the world's largest civil aviation trade show. Learn more about NBAA at www.nbaa.org.

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