The FAA and city of Santa Monica announced Jan. 28 that they reached an agreement to keep Santa Monica Municipal Airport open and operating until Dec. 31, 2028. The news took many stakeholders by surprise, and the deal is being met with mixed emotions.
According to the FAA, the airport will remain open, without question, until the end of 2028, but the airport’s single runway will be shortened from 4,973 feet to 3,500 feet. Other settlement details—including the price and availability of avgas, and the future of the two fixed-base operators on the field—were not immediately released.
Santa Monica Airport Association Vice President David Hopkins said the announcement was “very disappointing news,” adding that, “at a time when the country is focused on re-building infrastructure, closing an airport that was supposed to remain a public-use airport ‘in perpetuity' makes no sense.” Hopkins said the association is weighing its options going forward.
The agreement gives GA pilots who are based at Santa Monica Municipal Airport security that it will remain open for the next 12 years. It also provides more than a decade for airport supporters to continue working to save the airport from developers.
Local airport supporters, AOPA, the National Business Aviation Association, and the FAA have been working to save the airport all while the city lobbed new threats. Most recently, the city sent eviction notices to the airport’s two FBOs, Atlantic Aviation and American Flyers. The FAA countered with a cease-and-desist order, which led the two parties into negotiations to reach this agreement.
"Mutual cooperation between the FAA and the city enabled us to reach this innovative solution, which resolves longstanding legal and regulatory disputes," said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.
AOPA will study the settlement details as soon as they are released and will specifically look for items such as the terms of tenancies, fuel pricing and availability, and FBOs.
The association will work to ensure a continuous, stable supply of resources at the airport over the next 12 years. During that time, AOPA also will continue working daily to win support for Santa Monica Municipal Airport to keep it open far beyond 2028.
“We are not done fighting for Santa Monica,” Baker said.