Efforts to save the embattled Santa Monica Airport suffered a setback this week when a court denied an NBAA petition claiming the FAA exceeded its authority when it agreed to allow the city to shorten the airport’s single runway last year. NBAA had petitioned the court to vacate the 2017 agreement, arguing that the FAA defied requirements set by Congress as well as the agency’s own responsibility to support aviation. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia denied the petition on procedural grounds.
“We’re obviously disappointed by this decision, but it’s important to note the court did not make a determination as to the merits of our arguments against the validity of the original settlement agreement,” said NBAA President Ed Bolen. “This ruling was purely a matter of procedure, and in no way does it establish a precedent by which the FAA may enter into similar agreements affecting the fates of other vital general aviation airports.” NBAA is also involved in a pending administrative complaint that claims the city violated its grant-based obligations to the airport.
As allowed by the agreement with the FAA, the city shortened SMO’s runway from 4,973 feet to 3,500 feet in a successful effortto reduce jet traffic at the airport late last year. The city has said it plans to close the airport by the end of 2028. According to NBAA, it will continue to pursue options for keeping the airport open.