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Jet Flights From Santa Monica Airport Plummeted During First Half of Year


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By Jorge Casuso

July 12, 2018 -- Jet departures at Santa Monica Airport plummeted in the first half of the year, while helicopter use has been on the rise, according to the City data released Wednesday.

During the first half of this year, jet departures dropped to 704 from 4,038 during the same period last year, or by 83 percent, according to the monthly report.

The drop was reflected in the June numbers, which show 102 jets departing the airport, compared to 655 in June 2017 and 725 in June of 2016.

The June data further a trend that has seen the number of jets nosedive since the runway was reduced from nearly 5,000 feet to 3,500 feet in December ("Santa Monica Airport Starts Ten-Day Closure to Aircraft for Runway Shortening," December 15, 2017).

Thanks to the dramatic decrease in jet traffic, the number of total departures during the first half of the year fell to 8,975 from 10,566, despite an increase in departures by other types of aircraft.

"The continued reduction in jet operations, as well the amount by which air traffic has been reduced since we shortened the runway, far exceeds our own projections and those of others," said Suja Lowenthal, senior advisor on airport matters to the City Manager.

"We are happy to have been wrong."

While jet traffic is dramatically down, the number of helicopters departing the airport rose during the first half of the year to 897, from 763, or an 18 percent increase.

The numbers for June rose even higher -- by 34 percent -- to 154, from 125 last year and 104 the previous year.

Departures by piston planes -- by far the preferred aircraft at the century old airport -- continued to rise during the first half of the year -- to 10,483 from 9,299 last year.

June saw a spike in the number of piston plane departures -- to 1,926 from 1,482 last year and 1,509 in 2016.

Departures by turboprop planes -- which use a turbine engine to drive an aircraft propeller -- have seen a slight increase in the number of departures this year to 1,771, from 1,758 last year.

The numbers dropped in June to 287, from 309 in June 2017.

Shortening the runway was designed to ward off charter jets until the airport closes at the end of 2028 under a consent decree between the City and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) ("City, FAA Agree to Close Santa Monica Airport in 2028," January 28, 2017).


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