2016 Press Releases

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NBAA Helps Counter Latest City Effort to Close Santa Monica Airport

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

Washington, DC, Jan. 29, 2016 – The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) has joined with nine additional aviation stakeholders in responding to the city of Santa Monica’s latest effort in its continuing campaign to close Santa Monica Municipal Airport (SMO) – namely an appeal of a December determination by the FAA that requires the city to keep the historic airport open at least through 2023.

NBAA and other concerned parties filed a Part 16 complaint with the FAA in 2014, challenging the city of Santa Monica’s claim that its federal grant-based obligations to maintain and allow reasonable access to SMO expired on June 29, 2014, 20 years after a 1994 city request for funding from the agency.

However, the FAA agreed with NBAA that a 2003 modification of the grant terms, including Santa Monica’s receipt of $240,600 in federal Airport Improvement Program funds on Aug. 27 of that year, requires the city to continue operating SMO at least through 2023. Santa Monica now has requested that the FAA reevaluate and reverse that finding.

Read the reply to the city’s appeal. (PDF)

“Santa Monica officials have essentially professed ignorance of what the city agreed to when it accepted additional federal funds in 2003 and asserted that the FAA’s reasoning was incorrect,” explained Steve Brown, NBAA’s chief operating officer. “That first position is irrelevant to the argument at hand, and we fully support the FAA’s position that the 2003 decision was a new contract that restarted the clock on the city’s commitments.

“Unfortunately, the city has continued to try to avoid its obligation to the FAA and the aviation community, rather than recognizing the importance of general aviation and working to renegotiate agreements with airport tenants,” Brown added.

This latest round of appeals follows decades of attempts by Santa Monica officials to shutter SMO. In addition to disputing the 20-year grant commitment timeline, the city has also appealed a federal court decision that declined to consider the validity of the 1948 deed that transferred control of SMO from the federal government to the city after substantial improvements were made by the federal government during World War II, which requires the field to be maintained for public use in perpetuity.

“Santa Monica is an important air field within the Los Angeles area, representing a vital link to the national transportation system, and NBAA continues to actively defend access to Santa Monica,” said Alex Gertsen, NBAA’s director of airports and ground infrastructure. 

A final decision from the agency is likely to be issued toward the end of this year.

View NBAA’s SMO resource page

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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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