After a court ruling last week that denied on procedural grounds NBAA’s petition to overturn an agreement between the FAA and the city of Santa Monica, the organization said the effort to keep Santa Monica Municipal Airport (SMO) will continue. NBAA had urged the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to vacate the January 2017 settlement that allows the city to curtail aviation operations at SMO and gives it the option to close the airport entirely in late 2028.
The June 12 ruling found that the settlement is not reviewable by the D.C. Court, but only by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in California. NBAA argued that, in making the settlement, the FAA exceeded its authority and defied requirements established by Congress.
“We’re obviously disappointed, but it’s important to note the court did not make a determination as to the merits of our arguments against the validity of the original settlement agreement,” said NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen. “This ruling was purely a matter of procedure, and in no way does it establish a precedent by which the FAA may enter into similar agreements affecting the fates of other vital general aviation airports.”
Before the recent agreement, the FAA maintained that the city’s obligation to preserve SMO lasts in perpetuity under obligations in a 1948 surplus-property deed.