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Jet Departures at Santa Monica Airport Took Nosedive in 2018


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January 11, 2019 -- Jet departures at Santa Monica Airport nosedived from 7,753 in 2017 to 1,487 last year in the first annual tally with a shortened runway.

The dramatic drop came after the City reduced the length of the runway from nearly 5,000 feet to 3,500 feet in December to ward off larger jets ("Santa Monica Airport Starts Ten-Day Closure to Aircraft for Runway Shortening," December 15, 2017).

Jet departures accounted for the drop in total air traffic in 2018, according to the latest Monthly Departure Operations Report compiled by the City.

There were 28,379 total departures from the municipal airport in 2018, down from 31,841 the previous year.

But while jet traffic dropped by 81 percent, every other form of aircraft that used the century-old airport saw an increase.

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Piston plane departures increased by 13 percent in 22018 -- from 19,142 in 2017 to 21,704.

The increase followed an initial drop in piston traffic in 2016 after several flight schools and 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).

Helicopter departures also saw a 13 percent increase in 2018 -- rising from 1,545 in 2017 to 1,751 last year

Departures of turboprop planes, which use a turbine engine to drive an aircraft propeller, saw a 1 percent increase in 2018 -- from 3,401 in 2017 to 3,437 in 2018.

Shortening the runway was part of a consent decree with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to close the airport at the end of 2028 ("City, FAA Agree to Close Santa Monica Airport in 2028," January 28, 2017).

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