After decades of protests from residents and the city itself, the FAA and the city of Santa Monica have reached a compromise — moves to finally phase out the Santa Monica Airport (SMO) are underway. The complete shutdown of the airport will happen on December 31, 2028, but as of the end of January 2017, it’s been announced that the SMO is about to enter the beginning phase of shutdown.
The call to have the SMO shut down began in the 1980’s, so this move was a long time in the making—around three decades, in fact. However, it was only this year that the city of Santa Monica finally had its way.
Of course, private jet owners and operators can still go through the Van Nuys Airport (VNY), Burbank Airport (KBUR), or the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), but as we all know, the commercial air carrier traffic is considerably heavier at these airports.
What Does This Mean for Smaller Aircraft?
The good news is that the runway shortening will affect commercial flights, for the most part, and aircraft that can manage with just 3,500 feet of runway can still use the SMO. However, for clients with larger aircraft, it may be high time to start using the other airports.
“This a historic day for Santa Monica. The FAA has finally and categorically said that we could do whatever we want with our land at the end of 2028. This is a windfall for the residents of the city.” – according to Santa Monica Mayor, Ted Winterer.
In place of the airport, plans are underway for a public park and recreational facilities.
The City of Santa Monica is required to keep the airport fully operational until 2023, as the city received a federal grant for the SMO’s improvements. Meanwhile, though, two fixed base operators, the Atlantic Aviation and the American Flyers, have been evicted. In their place, the municipal employees of the City of Santa Monica have taken over operations.
Skeptics are quick to point out that it’s more probable for skyscrapers to rise in the area, though. Per president of the Santa Monica Airport Association, Christian Fry: “Get ready for the high-rise wall. It won’t all be a park.”
As the Santa Monica Airport is closing, height restrictions for building construction will be relaxed. Thus, there just might be a wave of new high-rise developments in the area over the coming years.