The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has launched an investigation following the news that Santa Monica Airport is to close, with the city council having sent eviction notices to its two FBOs, Atlantic Aviation and American Flyers.
The council had set a date for closure of July 1, 2018, with noise, air pollution and safety issues stated as the main reasons. It had issued 30-day eviction notices to the airport’s two long-serving FBOs, and will provide its own city-run support services until the closure date.
The FAA’s involvement comes following requests from both FBOs to halt the eviction process. The organization has issued a notice of investigation (NOI), requesting that the council explain its rationale at a hearing to take place on October 12.
The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) has welcomed the FAA’s intervention, particularly over concern that the city can match the FBOs for service. Stacy Howard, the NBAA’s Western regional representative, said, “While federal regulations may allow the city to operate its own FBO, Santa Monica is certainly not prepared to provide an equivalent level of service by October 15. It is also unlikely the city would ever do so in a manner beneficial to the airport and its aviation users.”
The comments come after years of debate by the Santa Monica city council on the future of the airport, with accusations of underfunding and mismanaging the facility.
Alex Gertsen, the NBAA’s director of airports and ground infrastructure, said, “These ill-conceived efforts to close and restrict the airport have wasted millions of taxpayer dollars, but also have resulted in lost opportunities to work with the aviation community to ensure that the airport continues to be a good neighbor and a vibrant, irreplaceable asset.”