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Promise of 'Affordable' Flights from Santa Monica Airport Angers Activists

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By Jonathan Friedman
Associate Editor

December 19, 2016 -- An aviation company's announcement last week that it would begin offering "affordable service" to and from Santa Monica Airport in February has created lots of buzz--not all of it positive.

Activists opposed to Santa Monica Airport have taken to social media in recent days to express their displeasure about the so-called "public charter service" from Irvine-based JetSuiteX.

"Are you kidding? In this dense residential area?" posted one person on the Facebook page for “No Jets Santa for Santa Monica."

The person continued, "There is no place for this kind of nonsense here. This has to be stopped. Take your public charter and shove it up the [expletive] of LAX where it belongs."

Several other similar comments were posted on that Facebook page and other social media spots where activists congregate virtually.

JetSuiteX says people will be able to connect to Las Vegas, Carlsbad and San Jose from Santa Monica Airport beginning in February.

It has already begun selling tickets for these flights. Some of the ticket prices are as low as $29, according to the company.

Alex Wilcox, CEO of JetSuiteX's parent company JetSuite, said in a press conference that more destinations from Santa Monica Airport would be announced soon, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The announcement came after the City Council held its final meeting of the year, so there might not be a public response from City officials, who are engaged in various legal battles over the airport, until after the holiday season.

JetSuiteX began operating in April with flights between Burbank and Carlsbad. Its plan could bring a new element to the seemingly never-ending dispute over Santa Monica Airport.

To many people, the conflict it seen as one between average residents wanting to get rid of noise and alleged pollution against the elite who are able to afford private aircraft or high-priced charter planes.

But JetSuiteX is focusing on those average people, possibly creating an alternative to low-priced flights out of LAX or nearby regional airports.

The marketing angle is clear with the company announcing the new service titled "JetSuiteX to Introduce Service for Everyone at Santa Monica Airport."

The council is on record saying the airport, which is located on public property, should close within the next two years if legally possible. The Federal Aviation Administration and various pro-aviation groups have not taken kindly to this public position ("Santa Monica City Council Votes to Close Airport by 2018," July 28, 2016).

Legal sparring continues, and most political observers do not see a quick fix. Recently retired City Attorney Marsha Moutrie said at a 2014 council meeting that the situation would "take years to sort out" ("Status of Santa Monica Airport ‘Will Take Years to Sort out,’ City Attorney Says," August 14, 2014).

Just last week, the FAA told the City to halt its attempt to evict two longtime aviation tenants from the property ("FAA Orders City to Temporarily Halt Santa Monica Airport Evictions," December 14, 2016).

One of those tenants is Atlantic Aviation, which appears to have some involvement with JetSuiteX business plan, based on the latter company's announcement.

The City returns to court next month to litigate the eviction matter with Atlantic Aviation and fellow tenant American Flyers.

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