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Circuit Court Denies Injunction to Halt Implementation of Santa Monica Airport Closure Deal  

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By Lookout Staff

May 5, 2017 -- A U.S District Court of Appeals on Thursday paved the way for shortening the runway at Santa Monica Airport when it denied an injunction to halt implementation of a deal between the City and the federal government, City officials announced Friday.

By denying the request by the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), the decision by the D.C. Circuit Court allows the City to continue implementing a consent decree with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to shut down the airport at the end of 2028.

The shortened runway -- which was part of the agreement -- is expected to result in a 45 percent reduction in jet traffic at the century old airport, City officials said.

"The City will continue to swiftly implement the terms of the Consent Decree, including shortening the runway, and mitigating health and safety impacts on our neighborhoods while the airport is in operation," said Mayor Ted Winterer.

"The Consent Decree may not be perfect," Winterer added, "but it settled decades of legal disputes between the City of Santa Monica and the United States government. "Everyone now knows that the airport can close forever after 2028.”

The ruling comes nearly three months after the NBAA filed a petition asking the appeals court to review the legality of the consent decree reached January 28 between the FAA and the City ("Aviation Groups Challenge Santa Monica Airport Closure Deal," February 15, 2017).

The motion also asked that the City not be allowed “to curtail aviation operations at Santa Monica Municipal Airport (SMO), while the court reviews an unprecedented settlement agreement between the FAA and the City.”

"By spearheading this action to restrict, and ultimately close, a significant and vital Southern California airport, the FAA failed to abide by its own mandate to defend national aviation infrastructure," Steve Brown, NBAA's chief operating officer, said when the motion was filed.

On March 6, Aviation advocates filed the injuction in U.S. Circuir Court ("National Aviation Group Asks Court to Delay Reducing Santa Monica Airport Runway," March 8, 2017).

Santa Monica seemed to cap decades of battling to close SMO when the City announced the unexpected consent decree with the FAA to close SMO on the last day of 2028 ("City, FAA Agree to Close Santa Monica Airport in 2028," January 28, 2017).

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