Santa Monica Mayor: City Committed to Replacing FBOs
by Kerry Lynch
- December 21, 2016, 2:48 PM
Santa Monica mayor Tony Vazquez is vowing to continue the city's efforts to supplant the privately run fixed-based operations at Santa Monica Airport (SMO) with city-run services. Vazquez made that pledge in response to the interim cease-and-desist order the FAA presented to Santa Monica officials last week. The order calls on the city to halt its effort to evict the two FBOs at the airport—American Flyers and Atlantic Aviation. The city issued eviction notices to the FBOs in September.
The FAA noted the order was intended to “maintain status quo at SMO” until the agency reaches a final decision on the city’s efforts to close the airport.
“While we are disappointed (but not surprised) that the FAA has decided to issue this interim order on the pending evictions of Atlantic and American Flyers, we remain committed to replacing private fixed-based operations with public services,” Vazquez said in response to the notices. “The city of Santa Monica owns the airport, the fuel tanks, the facilities and the hangars. The FAA has consistently recognized the rights of airport owners to exercise an exclusive right to provide services, and we are working in good faith to do just that.”
The city has 30 days to file a response to the FAA order.
The FAA’s order has received praise from a number of aviation organizations. “The agency is asking all the right questions, including whether the city is making suitable space, on reasonable terms, available to all those willing and qualified to offer aeronautical services,” said National Air Transportation Association (NATA) president Martin Hiller. “While NATA respects a proprietor’s exclusive right to provide aeronautical services, the agency has correctly observed the City’s plans are, at best, nascent and thus any evictions would be tantamount to closing or highly restricting use of the airport.”