Santa Monica Deal To Be Reviewed

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A panel of judges will review the deal struck between the FAA and the city of Santa Monica that will close the airport by 2028 and severely curtail operations in the meantime. A U.S. District Court of Appeals rejected the National Business Aviation Association’s bid for an injunction against implementing the deal but it did agree the legal underpinning of the agreement needs further study. A separate “merits panel” of judges will take a detailed look at the arrangement, which was agreed to by the city and FAA in January. NBAA President Ed Bolen said the decision “makes clear that the court holds steadfast on the need for a thorough and fair hearing about this unprecedented situation,” according to a story in the Santa Monica Lookout.

NBAA alleges that in making the deal with the city, the FAA “failed to follow established procedures when issuing the settlement order, including consideration of its detrimental effects to operators and businesses at the airport, and to the National Airspace System.” Although the airport will remain open for 11 more years, the deal gives the city the right to shorten the runway from 5,000 feet to 3,500 feet, which is too short for many business aircraft. It also allows the city to take over all services at the airport after the runway is shortened. The deal ended decades of costly legal sparring between Santa Monica and the FAA but the bulldozers will be held at bay at least until the merits panel completes its review. It’s not clear how long that might take.

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