SMO — Two anti-airport groups urged local Congress members to tell the Department of Transportation to ax the air traffic control tower at Santa Monica Airport as part of $1.2 trillion in federal cuts that went into effect Friday.
The cuts, also called sequestration, were part of the August 2011 Budget Control Act reached by Congress and the Obama Administration, and require the Federal Aviation Administration to find $600 billion in savings.
SMO was identified as one of over 200 general aviation airports across the country that could lose their control towers, which could potentially slow flights coming through the airports.
According to the Center for American Progress, roughly 106 airports could lose their control towers as part of the reductions, and those against the airport in Santa Monica and neighboring West Los Angeles aim to ensure that SMO numbers among them.
In a letter dated March 3, Citizens Against Santa Monica Airport Traffic (CASMAT) and Sunset Park Anti-Airport, Inc. told Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Santa Monica) and Rep. Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) that the airport has little love within Santa Monica and West Los Angeles, and potentially no future past 2015.
“Other airports are very much supported by the community; SMO is not,” the letter reads.
The letter details the ongoing struggle within the community over the airport, hearkening back to a 1981 City Council resolution citing city officials’ intention to close the airport as soon as possible and projecting past 2015, when city officials believe they will regain more control over what happens at the site.
It also documents four Airport Commission resolutions that aim to curtail operations at the airport by ceasing the sale of aviation fuel; ending city subsidies at the airport and imposing new insurance requirements; removing a 2,000-foot section of the runway from use after July 1, 2015; and take steps to condense the airport as much as possible while still operating it safely.
“We hope the above summary will inform (Transportation) Secretary (Ray) LaHood of our local situation,” it reads. “We respectfully request that the Secretary act to close the SMO control tower and cease expenditure of FAA funds on SMO.”
If the airport loses its control tower, flights will still be able to go in and out, although it could lead to inefficiencies in take offs and landings, airport officials said.
“We believe that the amount of traffic at SMO will go down considerably, and there is little likelihood of waiting,” said John Fairweather, founder of CASMAT.