AOPA leaders were at Santa Monica Municipal Airport this week to talk to local business owners, airport tenants, and leading airport advocates following a court ruling that threw out a lawsuit brought by the city of Santa Monica. Although the judge’s decision was good news for airport supporters, city council officials have already indicated they are regrouping to continue to the long battle to close the airport.
During the meetings, AOPA updated airport users about the judge’s decision and pledged to continue to support efforts to keep the airport open.
U.S. District Judge John F. Walter on Feb. 13 granted a motion from the Department of Justice and FAA to dismiss the lawsuit to release the city of Santa Monica from its obligation to operate Santa Monica Municipal Airport as an airport. Although the decision was a major victory for airport advocates, it is by no means the last word on the airport’s future, and airport opponents immediately announced that they would continue their fight to close the airport.
During his visit, AOPA President Mark Baker was interviewed by Los Angeles Times reporter Dan Weikel, who has been covering the issue. Baker reiterated the important role the airport plays in the local and national transportation network and noted that if the field is allowed to close, as many as 200 other airports with similar property agreements also could be at risk. Closing the airport would also cost the city some 1,500 jobs, close 175 businesses, and put an end to $275 million in annual economic contributions from the airport.
AOPA General Counsel Ken Mead and Vice President of Airports Bill Dunn used the visit to meet with the Santa Monica Airport Association’s board of directors to discuss the issues surrounding the airport today, how they view the efforts of city council members to close the field, and strategies for the future. Dunn will be a featured speaker at the Santa Monica Airport Association’s annual meeting March 10 at 7 p.m. at the Spitfire Grill on the airport, and all interested parties are encouraged to attend.