Residents in the urban neighborhoods that surround busy Santa Monica Airport in southern California have complained about operations there for years, citing noise, air pollution, and the danger from plane crashes, and now the city has approved new landing fees that not only more than double the fees for transient flyers, but also now apply to airport tenants, including flight schools. “Our students will go from not paying for a landing to paying about $12 for each landing in a Cessna 172,” said Jay Elder, executive vice president of the American Flyers flight school. The fee increase would add “hundreds of dollars” to each pilot’s training, he said. Transient pilots will avoid the airport because of the fee, he added, reducing traffic at the school’s pilot shop. If pilots don’t visit the shop, they won’t learn about instrument-training courses, “and it hurts the whole airport,” Elder said.
About a half dozen flight schools operate from the airport. Activists and politicians from the nearby neighborhoods, in Santa Monica and Los Angeles, have said for years they’d like to see the airport closed down. The new landing fee of $5.48 per 1,000 pounds was approved by the Santa Monica City Council on April 30, and is due to take effect Aug. 1. AOPA said it is “strongly opposed” to the changes. AOPA is disputing the plan, and has asked the airport operators to produce more financial data to support their expressed need for more revenue.