FAA Slams Flagrant Fees at Santa Monica

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Meanwhile, the Santa Monica (Calif.) Airport has been unfairly discriminating against business aircraft, the FAA said last week. (The FAA didn't feel that way when, just to the south, about 100 smaller aircraft were kicked out of their hangars altogether at Palomar to make space for business aircraft facilities ... apples and oranges, perhaps.) An FAA report blasted the landing-fee structure at the airport, after bizav advocates complained that it was unfair and unreasonable. The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) said the fees, which were implemented in 2003, were discriminatory and unlawful. The landing fee of $340 for a Gulfstream IV is the highest anywhere in the nation, the FAA said. Further, the fees are earmarked for pavement upkeep (the pavement is pretty nice), but the fees generate nearly twice as much income as the airport actually spends to maintain the pavement. The Santa Monica Airport Association, a group of airport users, said the fees were simply a ploy to deter larger aircraft from using the airport. In a 55-page analysis, the FAA agreed. And it's not fair to assess the fee only on airplanes of 10,000 pounds and up, since they only use part of the airport but have to pay all the costs, the FAA said. "The determination made by the FAA is great news for anyone opposed to discriminatory landing fees in the United States," said NBAA President Ed Bolen. "Santa Monica Airport has been unfairly discriminating against business aircraft operators, in violation of federal law. We commend the FAA for upholding the law and supporting the concept of fair and equal access for all airport users." The airport is operated by the City of Santa Monica, which has 30 days to appeal the FAA's conclusions.