The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) has asked its members in Southern California to contact U.S. Representatives Karen Bass (D-Calif.) and Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), in an effort to stave off the latest attempt to close Santa Monica Municipal Airport (SMO).
Both members of Congress have endorsed a seven-point plan by local airport opponents to close the airport in the near future. Bass and Lieu have scheduled a July 8 meeting with FAA officials to discuss the plan.
AOPA has called on members in the districts represented by Bass and Lieu (Districts 37 and 33 respectively) to join a letter-writing campaign organized by the Santa Monica Airport Association to ensure that both representatives hear from constituents who understand the airport’s value and importance to the community, region and nation.
“This latest effort to close Santa Monica Airport once again seeks to roll back long-standing agreements the city has made with the FAA,” said Mark Baker, AOPA president. “We want to make sure that Representatives Bass and Lieu have a full understanding of the benefits that SMO brings to its community, and how those benefits will grow in the future.”
Although the city struck an agreement with the FAA in 1948 to operate the airport in perpetuity, city leaders have made repeated efforts to shut the airport down. The airport has survived every challenge, including a recent court case battle. Having failed there, city officials recently adopted a practice of slow strangulation to put the airport out of business by raising fees and changing lease terms, AOPA officials noted.
Airport opponents have not been swayed by studies showing that the 96-year-old airfield and birthplace of Douglas Aviation today supports more than 1,500 jobs and 175 businesses, with 250 based aircraft. The airport generates $250 million in economic activity each year and reduces congestion in the air and on the roads that would otherwise increase if traffic were to be diverted elsewhere in the busy Los Angeles area.
AOPA has joined in legal actions and supported ballot initiatives seeking to preserve the airport, and remains focused on that important task.
Members living in the 33rd and 37th Congressional Districts now have a role to play: Speaking up and sharing their support of the airport with their elected officials, AOPA official said.