Saturday, January 14, 2017

Santa Monica Officials Illegally Attempting Air Commerce Regulation, JetSuiteX CEO Says

January 13, 2017 -- The City could be adding a new item to its list of legal battles over Santa Monica Airport (SMO) after Airport Director Stelios Makrides this week refused to process aviation company JetSuiteX’s application for a commercial operating permit at the facility.

JetSuiteX CEO Alex Wilcox told The Lookout on Friday that the City is "illegally attempting to regulate air commerce."

He added that the company will begin operating low-rate plane flights in and out of SMO beginning February 6 as planned regardless of the application status ("Promise of 'Affordable' Flights from Santa Monica Airport Angers Activists," December 19, 2016).

The application was for leasing space at the airport.

Wilcox told The Lookout last month that JetSuiteX can operate at the airport with or without the lease (an opinion not shared by City officials), although the company would prefer to have its own space there.

He said on Friday that the company was "examining our position" about the lease following the City's latest move.

Makrides wrote in a letter to Wilcox on Thursday that the application could not be processed because it was incomplete since it did not include an environmental analysis and other information.

"Our letter to Mr. Wilcox is very clear," wrote Nelson Hernandez, senior advisor to the city manager on airport issues, in an email to The Lookout on Friday.

He continued, "We have offered to answer his questions, but he has thus far not returned our calls. We look forward to explaining to Mr. Wilcox the process at Santa Monica Airport.”

Wilcox might not be talking to the City, but he is talking to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), something that he said is happening "every day."

He added that he was "certain the federal government will enforce” against what he considers to be a backdoor attempt by the City to shut down air service at SMO.

JetSuiteX created a buzz, both positive and negative, last month when it announced it would begin offering "affordable service" connecting Santa Monica to Las Vegas, Carlsbad and San Jose.

Wilcox told The Lookout that there has been "a very good number" of advanced tickets sold, and that largest number of customers live in SMO's ZIP code.

JetSuiteX is a subsidiary of JetSuite, which has a partnership with JetBlue and has been offering more expensive charter flights in and out of SMO for several years.


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