By Olin Ericksen
March 29 -- Despite worries that jet traffic would
increase, the Santa Monica Airport Commission reluctantly
gave the go ahead Monday to approve the sale of Supermarine,
the long-standing independent business that services planes
once they touch down.
In a 3 to 1 vote, with one abstention, commissioners recommended
that the City Manager allow the transfer of stock from Supermarine
-- which currently refuels, parks and provides transportation
of pilots at two airports -- to Atlantic Aviation, which boasts
services at 41 airports and has 13 contracts in the pipeline
across the nation.
In addition to absorbing the small business, Atlantic Aviation
will take over the remaining seven-year lease at the airport,
abiding by the same terms and conditions as Supermarine, according
to the City Attorney’s office.
While Atlantic Aviation officials acknowledged they would
like to see business grow, they argued the company’s
presence alone would not increase the 18,000 yearly jet operations
that nearby residents complain are increasing noise and pollution.
"Obviously, if there was more traffic brought to us
we would be happy to accommodate them, but we are not expecting
to expand," Louis Pepper, CEO of Atlantic Aviation, told
"Atlantic, by itself, is not going to affect traffic,"
he said. "The amount of airplanes is user-based…
they are only going to fly here if they have business here."
While a majority on the commission ultimately agreed to recommend
the sale, several expressed doubt that increased advertising,
financial resources and the growing use of shared jets and
super-light jets would not promote more traffic.
Commissioners also said certain conditions must be met by
Atlantic, including conforming to the City's sustainability
plan on environmental operations, which Pepper said his company
Perhaps more importantly, will be a report on Atlantic Aviation’s
efforts to improve community relations at Teterburo airport
in New Jersey -- often compared to Santa Monica's non-commercial
airport -- where the company has been a fixed base operator
for more than a half century.
In Atlantic's March 19 introduction letter to the City, the
company generally discussed studies currently being conducted
by a committee headed by Atlantic to change operations at
that airport to address neighborhood concerns about noise,
hours of operation and the access of older, noisier jets.
"We recognize the need for the airport to alter operations
and align itself with the community views," the letter
said. "The committee… has proposed certain changes
that include putting in place aircraft weight limits, flight
curfews and curtailment of ‘Stage 2’ (older jet)
Those discussions are still on-going, according to Atlantic
Barring disapproval by Santa Monica 's City Manager or the
City Attorney's office, the sale will likely be completed
in the next two months.