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Tue, Jul 08, 2003

NBAA Calls Santa Monica's Rate Structure Out of Line

A Move to Price Bizjets Out of Business There?

The National Business Aviation Association has filed a formal FAR Part 16 complaint with the FAA asking the Agency to investigate the new landing fee structure at Santa Monica (CA) Municipal Airport (SMO). The fees were adopted by the Santa Monica City Council on June 10, 2003, over the objections of NBAA and other user groups, and they are scheduled to go into effect on August 1, 2003.

"NBAA filed the complaint because we see a disturbing trend of access being compromised at Federally funded airports," said NBAA President Shelley A. Longmuir.

Presently, there are no landing fees for general aviation operations at SMO. Effective August 1, landing fees will be imposed on aircraft with a maximum certificated gross landing weight of 10,000 pounds or more on a sliding scale ranging from $0.29 per thousand pounds for the smallest aircraft to $5.81 per thousand pounds for the largest aircraft. As noted in the complaint, this requirement would result in a fee of $343 per landing for Gulfstream II and Gulfstream III aircraft, and it clearly is intended to force larger business jets off the airport.

Under the FAA’s Part 16 procedures, the City of Santa Monica has approximately three weeks to answer the complaint. Further pleadings will be exchanged over a 20-day period, after which the FAA will decide whether to institute a formal investigation.

Santa Monica engaged in a similar exercise last year when it proposed to ban any aircraft larger or faster than those meeting the FAA’s Airport Reference Code B-II standard, which is roughly 50 percent of jet operations at SMO. After NBAA and other user representatives protested, the FAA instituted a formal investigation. That proposal remains pending by the Santa Monica City Council.

We asked a Board member...

David Kaplan, a Board member, told ANN, "The fees come out of a maintenance assessment; I believe this is common practice, determined by the types of airplanes -- to cover the costs of maintaining the runway -- it's not an 'anti-jet' ordinance. It's a matter of weight and [pavement] maintenance." As to which other airports may have similar fee structures, or just how the numbers were arrived at, Mr. Kaplan didn't have those answers at his fingertips. "It was discussed about a year ago," he told us. "It's just now been written into law, and it's just now going to start." All he could remember, additionally, was that, "This was based on a study by an aviation-paving consulting group." He again assured us it was designed to cover maintenance, not to redirect traffic.

FMI: www.nbaa.org/airports/SMO

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