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|JetSuiteX CEO Says Company’s Commercial Flights at Santa Monica Airport Could Be Canceled|
By Jonathan Friedman
January 30, 2017 -- Among the critics of the deal announced Saturday that will close Santa Monica Airport (SMO) at the end of 2028 is JetSuiteX CEO Alex Wilcox, whose company had planned to start flying low-cost commercial flights in and out of SMO starting next month.
But he clings to hope that the decision could be reversed.
Wilcox told The Lookout on Sunday that the legal settment between the City and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was “a tragedy" and “appears to be a parting gift to the City from the Obama administration.”
“This was definitely a very cigar-filled backroom type of thing done without any input from the people who use the airport,” Wilcox said.
The agreement includes the immediate reduction of SMO’s runway length from nearly 5,000 feet to 3,500 feet.
Wilcox said the reduction would make JetSuiteX’s flights impossible because of the size of its aircraft. The company could operate at the airport for about three months before the runway reduction is completed.
“We have to determine whether it’s worth doing it for that amount of time,” Wilcox said.
JetSuiteX created a negative and positive buzz when it announced late last year it would start selling tickets for flights connecting Santa Monica to Las Vegas, Carlsbad and San Jose for as cheap as $29.
Lots of tickets were sold, according to the company. But anti-airport activists were not pleased (“Promise of ‘Affordable’ Flights from Santa Monica Airport Angers Activists,” December 19, 2016).
As the February 6 opening day for flights approached, an activist protest was planned and a legal clash between JetSuite X and the City appeared inevitable.
Although news of the legal settlement means there is less chance JetSuite X’s operation at SMO will take off, Wilcox said he has not lost all hope.
“There might be more to this story,” he said regarding how the agreement was finalized. “And this deal might be reversed.”
When asked whether JetSuite X would challenge the agreement, Wilcox said, “We need to gather more facts and determine whether to commit resources toward that.”
Meanwhile, the planned demonstration on February 4 will still take place.
But rather than JetSuite X, the focus will more generally be about opposition to the airport, according to organizer Concerned Residents Against Airport Pollution (CRAAP).
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