Santa Monica evicts private airport operators
Santa Monica is evicting two companies that handle most day-to-day enterprises at its municipal airport.
The 30-day notices to vacate airport premises went out Thursday, marking a significant step in the city's long-running campaign to shut down the airfield whose runway is within several hundred feet of homes.
Atlantic Aviation and American Flyers are the airport's fixed base operators, meaning that they had master leases to operate airplane hangars, sell jet fuel and rent space to flight schools and offices on airport land.
The city has declined to enter long term leases with the companies since the middle of last year, so they were operating under short term holdover agreements. Those agreements were terminated with Thursday's order to vacate the airport within 30 days.
Nelson Hernandez, a senior advisor on airport issues for the city manager, said federal law lets it replace the private companies with its own city-run operation.
It's likely the city would offer far fewer services than the private companies. That's in line with the City Council vote last month to close the airport as soon as possible and remove the private aviation enterprises.
"With the city taking over, at the very least, the community concerns are going to be looked at seriously," said Martin Rubin, who leads a group of residents who favor closing the airport.
The private companies are pushing back. Atlantic Aviation, the larger of the two firms, complained to the FAA that Santa Monica is putting unreasonable and unlawful restrictions on local aviation. You can read their full complaint below.