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Total Departures at Santa Monica Airport Hold Steady, As Jet Traffic Nosedives


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March 16, 2018 -- Last month, the number of jet flights from Santa Monica Airport took a nosedive compared to February of last year, but the total number of departures held steady, according to the latest statistics released by the City.

Jets flights out of Santa Monica airport increased slightly in February, but they remain far below the numbers logged before the runway was shortened in December ("Santa Monica Airport Starts Ten-Day Closure to Aircraft for Runway Shortening," December 15, 2017).

While the number of jet departures was dramatically down, departures by piston and turbojet aircraft rose in February over the same month last year, according to the Monthly Operations Departure Report released by the City this week.

That offset the dramatic downturn in jet traffic, resulting in a slight increase in total departures from SMO -- from 2,113 in February 2017 to 2,219 for the same month this year.

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The number of helicopter departures also spiked -- from 72 in February 2017 to 126 last month. That continued a trend that saw helicopter departures increase in January from 109 in 2017 to 134 this year.

There were 139 jet departures this February, up from 111 in January, according to the report.

Still, that represents a 77 percent decrease from the 599 jet departures in February 2017 and an 82 percent decrease from the 775 departures in February 2017, the report shows.

During the same period, there has been an increase in turboprop activity, "which may be an indication of some jet traffic transitioning to turboprop," said Suja Lowenthal, the City Manger's advisor on Airport Affairs.

Turboprop aircraft -- which use a turbine engine to drive an aircraft propeller -- fly lower and use less fuel than turbo jets, according to aviation sites.

In February, there were 331 turboprop departure operations at Santa Monica Airport, up from 303 in January.

The number of turbojet departures last month far exceed the 197 logged the previous year and are higher than the 275 logged in February 2016.

The numbers were also up in January from 244 in 2017 to 303 this year, although that was lower than the 314 logged in January 2016.

The number of departures by piston aircraft was also up in February, from 1,245 in Februay 2017 to 1,649 this year, the report showed.

That was still far below the 2,052 departures by piston planes in 2016, before several aviation tenants were forced out by the City ("Major Aviation-Related Tenant at Santa Monica Airport to Vacate," March 1, 2016 and "Aviation School Leaving Santa Monica Airport," April 28, 2016).


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