Santa Monica To Close In 2028


Santa Monica Airport will close in 2028 and the runway will almost certainly be shortened to 3,500 feet. The FAA announced Saturday that it had reached an agreement to end decades of legal wrangling over the airport, which is surrounded by urban development and has been targeted for closure by local politicians since the 1980s, citing safety and environmental concerns. Under the terms of the deal, the airport has to be maintained in “continuous and stable” operating condition until Dec. 31, 2028, and allows the city to chop almost 1,500 feet from the runway. The airport has 270 aircraft and about 450 landings and takeoffs a day. It’s likely the short runway will curtail itinerant operations and may force some of the aircraft based there to move. Until the runway is shortened, the FBOs and flight schools at the airport can stay in business but after the bulldozers are finished the city can assume services at the airport. The deal is significant because it mentions local land use decisions as a factor in making decisions about aviation services and EAA Chairman Jack Pelton was quick to point that out. It’s also clear that none of the aviation groups were in on the discussions.

“It is certainly a disappointing development, first concerning the immediate ability to shorten the runway,and the ultimate ability to close the airport in 2028,” Pelton said in a statement. “While we can only guess at the inside discussions to reach this settlement as to our knowledge,the airport’s stakeholders were not a part of it, the founding principles of FAA grant assurances are to maintain stability for an airport and its users as part of the national airspace system, above local political maneuvering.”

NBAA and AOPA both suggested they’ll fight the agreement. NBAA President Ed Bolen said they’re still analyzing the agreement but on first blush it has concerns.“We are disappointed that the government decided to settle this case, especially given that NBAA has long been committed to aggressively supporting business aviation access to SMO, through every legislative and legal channel available. If there are further avenues available to us, we intend to explore them.” AOPA President Mark Baker said his group is also studying the agreement but opposing the decision. “Our main goal—to keep this airport permanently open and available to all general aviation users—remains unchanged. We are not done fighting for Santa Monica”

Meanwhile, Santa Monica officials were quick to trumpet the news, saying the airport will be turned into a park. “The agreement ends a longstanding legal battle and secures, with absolute certainty, that the 227 acres of aviation land will be returned to the residents of Santa Monica,” the city said in a statement. The FAA and the city have been in a pitched battle recently over the city’s attempt to effectively evict airport businesses with a goal of closing the airport in two years. FAA Administrator Michael Huerta called the agreement “a fair resolution for all concerned” in a statement released Saturday. “… It strikes an appropriate balance between the public’s interest in making local decisions about land use practices and its interests in safe and efficient aviation services,” he said.