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Jet Operations at Santa Monica Airport Plummet After Runway Shortened


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By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

May 18, 2018 -- Jet operations at Santa Monica Airport plummeted 86 percent in four months after the runway was shortened, according to a City report released Thursday.

In an April year-over-year comparison, SMO experienced an 82 percent decrease in jet operations, said Suja Lowenthal, senior advisor on airport matters to the City Manager, said in releasing the brief findings.

It was slightly less of a freefall for the jet traffic tracked at SMO in March; that month, the decrease was 86 percent, although unusually rainy weather that month likely caused some of the decline, she said.

The data tracks operations by all air traffic at SMO since January, shortly after the City shortened the length of the runway from almost 5,000 feet to about 3,500 feet ("Santa Monica Airport Starts Ten-Day Closure to Aircraft for Runway Shortening," December 15, 2017).

The move was designed to ward off charter jets until SMO closes entirely as an airport at the end of 2028, as per the consent decree between the City and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) ("City, FAA Agree to Close Santa Monica Airport in 2028," January 28, 2017).

Jet operations were already nosediving in February, with traffic dropping 80 percent compared to the same month last year, the status update said.

Some of March’s even steeper drop could “possibly be attributed to the inclement weather we had for part of March,” Lowenthal said.

The inclement weather might also be the reason for decreases in turboprop operations in March, as opposed a nine percent uptick in January and a 40 percent jump in February, year to year, she said.

In all, air traffic at SMO dropped from January through April to 8,975 from 10,566 operations for the same period last year.

Helicopter operations rose this January through April to 593, up 16 percent from the same period in 2017, the report said.

Meanwhile, jets taking off and landing in the same months totaled 488, compared to 2,697 during the same months in 2017, or an 82 percent decrease, the report said.

Piston aircraft operations increased seven percent this year from January to April (totaling 6,687 operations) and turbo-craft increased 11 percent to 1,207 operations compared to the same period in 2017.

Turboprop aircraft -- which use a turbine engine to drive an aircraft propeller -- fly lower and use less fuel than turbo jets, according to aviation sites.


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