The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) today responded to a May 4 order from the U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit, delivered in connection with recent actions taken by the association to challenge an agreement between the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the City of Santa Monica, which would restrict or ultimately prohibit aviation access to Santa Monica Municipal Airport (SMO).
Under the terms of the unique, highly questionable agreement, announced in January, the city would only be required to keep the historic airfield open through Dec. 31, 2028, and in the meantime, the city would be authorized to reduce the length of SMO’s sole runway to 3,500 feet.
NBAA’s first filing on the matter, submitted Feb. 13, sought for the appeals court to review the underlying legality of the agreement between the FAA and Santa Monica. NBAA argues that the FAA failed to follow established procedures when issuing the settlement order, including consideration of its detrimental effects to operators and businesses at the airport, and to the National Airspace System. The FAA later filed a motion to dismiss that petition.
The association’s second filing, submitted March 6, requested a stay against the FAA, and an injunction against the city of Santa Monica, to restrict any near-term efforts to shorten SMO’s runway while the court reviews the settlement agreement.
Other parties to both filings include the Santa Monica Airport Association, a longstanding proponent for maintaining the airport’s current presence; two airport-based businesses, Bill’s Air Center, Inc. and Kim Davidson Aviation, Inc.; and Redgate Partners, LLC and Wonderful Citrus, LLC, two operators that frequently utilize SMO.
The appeals court’s May 4 order grants the city’s motion to intervene and denies the motion from NBAA and the other stakeholders for a stay and an injunction. However, of greater importance, the order also refers the case to a merits panel for further review about the legality of the settlement agreement, in the process deferring the FAA’s motion for dismissal of the review.
“This order, which recognizes our call to review the underlying case on the settlement agreement, makes clear that the court holds steadfast on the need for a thorough and fair hearing about this unprecedented situation,” said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen. “For decades, NBAA has pursued all potential avenues for preserving business aviation access to Santa Monica Municipal Airport, and we will continue to exercise every remaining option for doing so.”