FAA's Unexpected Concessions Caught Everyone By Surprise
If there is one thing that the supporters of Santa Monica Airport (KSMO) and those who want it to close can agree on, it's that they're unhappy about the deal struck between the FAA and the city to allow the airport to be closed in 12 years, and shorten the runway in the interim.
The Santa Monica Daily Press reports that both aviation supporters and anti-airport groups feel like they were sandbagged by the city and the FAA. On the one hand, airport supporters contend that the airport should remain open into perpetuity, and see the FAA's decision as a stab in the back, and one that does not protect the interests of the aviation community. But citizen groups opposed to the airport say that the decision to allow the airport to stay open for 12 more years does not reflect the desires of the community to close the airport sooner. Neither side is happy that the city and the FAA negotiated the deal with no input from the either faction.
Two anti-airport groups went so far as to file an emergency motion in court in an effort to stop the settlement. That motion was denied by a district court judge, who said the settlement was "fair, reasonable and adequate to all concerned." Citizen groups plan a protest Saturday, saying that allowing 12 more years of jet flights at the airport is far from reasonable.
The FAA and the city reportedly went back and forth several times before reaching the 12-year compromise.
Interim Santa Monica City Attorney told the Santa Monica Daily Press that the compromise was in no way a "gift" for the city from the outgoing Obama administration. Still, the FAA made a 180 degree turn from its stance of saying the airport should not ever be closed to allowing its closure in 12 years, and shortening the runway to 3,500 feet. That alone will prevent companies like JetSuiteX from operating from the airport.
The Santa Monica Airport Association said in a news release that the deal directly contravenes the Surplus Property Act established by Congress after WWII to ensure the America would have a robust air transportation network.
"We need your help in righting this egregious error. Join us at Santa Monica Airport Association (SMAA) as a “National Supporter” with a donation of $25 to help finance the fight to keep SMO working as part of our national airport and airspace system and reverse this dangerous precedent. International supporters are also most welcome."
SMAA believes that Santa Monica Municipal Airport is a bellwether that speaks to an issue larger than just one airport in one city and one state. "We are enlisting the help of aviation supporters nationwide at all levels to help us get the job done.
"Don’t let greedy politicians and backroom government deals sell out our nation’s airports. Please help us prevent SMO becoming the next domino in a cascade of destruction that began with Meigs Field. The SMAA is working hard with its national allies to nullify this betrayal before it is too late. Will you join us and help save SMO and protect our access to the national airspace? Together we can keep America great."
The settlement must still be approved by a federal judge. No date for that hearing has been set.
(Images from file)