By Olin Ericksen
March 19 -- After years of parking, stocking and
fueling planes at Santa Monica airport, Super Marine is up
for sale. Who is buying the small business, however, has led
some neighbors to worry jet traffic could further soar.
Pending a review by the City Attorney's office, City officials
confirmed last week that the independently owned tenant is
in the process of being bought by Atlantic Aviation Corporation,
an aircraft service company which operates in nearly 40 cities
"It is a request to transfer a majority stock option,"
Airport Manager Bob Trimborn said of the deal. "The owner
is a 73-year-old who is at a point that he wants to transfer
his ownership in the company."
In addition to taking over operations for Super Marine --
one of three "fixed base operators" that services
planes once they touch-down -- the company would inherit the
independent company’s remaining seven-year lease at
the airport, Trimborn said.
City officials said Atlantic Aviation must abide by the same
lease conditions as Super Marine and that there is no direct
evidence showing the sale could directly increase traffic.
Atlantic Aviation officials declined to comment on the specifics
of the pending sale, but Sue Sommers, the company's vice president
of sales and marketing, said jet traffic is dictated by market
"As lovely as it may be for us, increasing traffic at
the airport is beyond our capabilities," Sommers said..
"That is driven by the customers themselves.
"We work very closely with communities in a lot of other
cities that have airports and adhere to all FAA guidelines
including noise standards."
However, the sheer size of the company and its business model
has members of Friends of Sunset Park, a neighborhood group
abutting the airport, worried that Atlantic Aviation could
add to the 20,000 jet take-offs each year.
"What we know about Atlantic Aviation is that they service
business jets," said Cathy Larson, a member of the neighborhood
group’s airport committee.
For years, FOSP and other neighborhood groups have complained
of noise, lack of safety and pollution at the airport , which
has seen a steady increase of jet traffic in a city that is
home to major entertainment and internet companies.
Although the majority of Super Marine's business also focuses
jets, Atlantic Aviation has the potential to accommodate more
traffic, Larson and others believe.
"They're going to be able to spend more resources promoting
more business," she said.
Demand and space constraints, and not simply the size of
the operator, will determine use, Trimborn said.
"It's all still the same lease," said Trimborn.
"It's really a demand-driven economy when it comes to
Deputy City Attorney, Martin Tachiki – who is currently
reviewing the pending sale for the City – said he too
is unsure what Atlantic Aviation may have in mind for its
future business plan.
"I don't want to speculate on what they want to do,"
he said. "Our primary concern is in compliance to their
"The sale is pending, but under the lease it has to
meet certain requirements," he said.
The City Manager must still approve the sale, Tachiki said.
It's still unknown if the matter will come before Airport
Commission as a discussion item at the commission's next meeting
on March 26th.
Coming at a time when the City, lawmakers and Federal Aviation
Administration officials are meeting to discuss safety and
legal issues surrounding the local airport, the next meeting
is already expected to have a packed agenda.