The FAA announced that California’s Santa Monica Airport will close at the end of 2028.
California’s Santa Monica Airport (SMO), both historically important and a key part of the National Airspace System (NAS), will close at the end of 2028, the FAA said on Saturday following two weeks of negotiations between city leaders and the agency. Somewhat sooner, possibly within a year, the city of Santa Monica, which owns the 227-acre airfield, will cut the 4,973-foot runway down to 3,500 feet, effectively eliminating access to the larger jets that currently fly there.
Before Saturday’s surprise settlement, the city and FAA had been embroiled in multiple lawsuits, with the city council and its airport commission firmly arguing for closing the airport while the FAA and pro-airport proponents repeatedly pointed out that after World War II, the city had signed an instrument of transfer to keep the airport open in perpetuity.
Despite that requirement and the FAA’s and airport proponents’ efforts to retain this important link in the NAS, the FAA and the city have signed a settlement agreement allowing the city to close the airport forever on Jan. 1, 2029. Probably in recognition of the city’s claim that a portion of the airport is not subject to the 1947 instrument of transfer with the government, the FAA also consented to allow the city to close nearly 1,500 feet of runway, a portion of which can be used to build runway safety areas and/or an emergency overrun with crushable concrete.
The consent agreement took airport users and organizations that have worked for years and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to try to protect the airport by complete surprise. It was, said Santa Monica Airport Association (SMAA) president Bill Worden, “a shock to us.”