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JetSuite CEO Alex Wilcox discusses the current situation at Santa Monica Airport.
Courtesy Photo
JetSuite CEO Alex Wilcox discusses the current situation at Santa Monica Airport.

Opinion, Santa Monica, Columnist, Santa Monica Airport

JetSuite CEO Discusses His Operations At Santa Monica Airport

The Phenom100 Air-47.
Photo By Jessica Ambats
The Phenom100 Air-47.

Posted Apr. 3, 2014, 8:22 am

Tony Morris / Mirror Columnist

I first visited Santa Monica Airport (SMO) in 1964 when I moved to Santa Monica Canyon from Philadelphia. Coming from an “Aviation family" – father was Vice-president of Kellett Aircraft, North Wales, PA and older brother a 747 pilot with PAN AM, my interest in SMO’s future is genuine.

The future of Santa Monica Airport is once again in the headlines. The Santa Monica City Council voted 6 to 0 to study options for the airport which include a possible downsizing and even closure.

Recently I spoke with Alex Wilcox, CEO of JetSuite a light jet charter operator whose four passenger Embraer Phenom 100s operate out of SMO.

A founder of Jet Blue, Wilcox started Jet Suite operations at Long Beach airport in 2009.

What sets the company apart from other light jet charter operators is lower cost and more efficient operations.

JetSuite provides service to more than 2000 airports in Canada, Mexico, U.S. and the Caribbean, and is the first private aviation company in history to guarantee an online quote.

A major concern of Santa Monica residents living near SMO is jet noise.

Jet Suite’s Phenom 100s are quieter than most light jets.

Wilcox refers to the aircraft as a “town car of the skies.” Jet Suite has received the ARGUS Platinum Rating for Safety and the company’s pilots are trained to a higher safety standard.

In a recent interview Alex Wilcox discussed the current situation at SMO and the service JetSuite provides.

Tony Morris: Are you following developments regarding the Santa Monica City Council’s lawsuit against the FAA?

Alex Wilcox: We are monitoring the situation to ensure we remain in compliance. Residents should be aware that JetSuite flies the lightest and quietest jets that operate at SMO. The Phenom 100s, are Stage 4 compliant and probably inaudible to the majority of Santa Monica residents.

Tony Morris: With the 1000 mile range of the Phenom 100 which destination airports are the most popular with JetSuite customers departing SMO?

Alex Wilcox: We see quite a range of travel out of SMO. Weekday travel tends to vary as it is often for business (for example OAK, LAS, DAL) Friday through Sunday travel is more often for pleasure (for example SDL, TRK, PGA, JAC).

Tony Morris: Does JetSuite serve a large number of Executives in the Entertainment Industry?

Alex Wilcox: Yes, and given that many of them live near the beach, SMO is a frequent departure airport for them.

Tony Morris: Are you finding that your customers chose to fly JetSuite to and from SMO to avoid travel to and from LAX?

Alex Wilcos: Yes, our clients enjoy avoiding the 405 drive to LAX, whether its from their homes in Pacific Palisades or office in Century City. Airport fees at SMO are a bit less then at LAX which can make a difference in the departure airport. (Airport fees can be seen when running a guaranteed quote on; displaying these helps us maintain transparency and sets us apart from our competitors).

Tony Morris: Are you optimistic about JetSuite’s growth? What are some of the reasons?

Alex Wilcox: We are very optimistic, we have doubled our business every year for four years running and we expect to continue to grow near that rate because of our unbeatable combination of high quality, low cost service, and by far the best value in national branded jet charter.

Santa Monica Airport’s businesses generate revenue in excess of $240 million for Santa Monica. SMO is an historic airport once home to Douglas Aircraft where thousands of DC-3s were manufactured.

Post a comment


Apr. 3, 2014, 10:24:30 am

Larry said...

That $240 million should be given to the people of LOS ANGELES. They're the ones across the street breathing the fumes from Santa Monica's stinkin' airport for the rich.

Apr. 3, 2014, 10:28:19 am

Carla B said...

The jet noise is more of an issue for the folks in the outgoing flight path, but it's the fumes on the east end that even these quieter jets spew plenty of. Sit at Starbucks or Whole Foods on National for a few minutes and you can smell the heavy exhaust from departing jets.

Apr. 3, 2014, 10:42:58 am

Mr. C said...

I don't understand how this type of jet-share isn't considered commercial travel? I don't have a problem with a local jet owner who lives in SM and flies his plane out of SMO, but if six strangers from Malibu can all book a seat on a company's jet, it won't be long before we bring in the TSA and this airport becomes another LAX.

Apr. 3, 2014, 12:33:25 pm

B. Responsible said...

I'm an entertainment exec and I live in Santa Monica, but refuse to fly out of SMO. I fly exclusively out of Van Nuys or LAX. I don't allow any of my staff to use SMO either. I believe the airport is unsafe and the impacts on the surrounding community too great. Unless the airport clears out homes and adds a Runway Protection Zone (required of all airports constructed today) it's just an accident waiting to happen.

Apr. 3, 2014, 1:58:13 pm

Frank Goyer said...

My kids can't play outside our apartment because of the fumes from this airport. Tony Morris went to Yale and supports private jets. I'm so sick of rich people.

Apr. 3, 2014, 2:08:45 pm

I <3 SMO said...

SMO Air traffic is less than it has ever been. Jets and airplanes being built today are more environmentally friendly than they have ever been. I'm discouraged by comments from my fellow local residents about increased fumes and decreased safety and the idea that business and travel are exclusively for the rich. I'm glad to see business increasing and delivering more revenue for the city of SMO to use appropriately.

Apr. 3, 2014, 4:16:42 pm

Mike said...

Jet traffic is actually up 40% this year over last, and it's because of these jet-sharing companies...a trend that will surely continue. You can make your arguments to all of us on the LA side that we shouldn't live downwind of your airport, but we do, and yes, the fumes are worse than ever.

Apr. 3, 2014, 4:56:33 pm

Erica Levinson said...

If you alter the departure route to fly over Santa Monica instead of turning south over Venice, the jets won't be on a trajectory that takes them into LAX airspace and therefore won't have to sit idling on the east end of the runway while they wait for permission to enter the LAX queue. Do that and 90% of the fume complaints go away. But alas, Santa Monica doesn't want the planes from their airport flying over their heads. Can't have it both ways...

Apr. 4, 2014, 12:55:32 pm

Jerry McCutcheon said...

They make noise reducers for jet engines. demand then for jets that operate out the airport

Apr. 4, 2014, 2:11:09 pm

M.C. said...

The JetSuite CEO Alex Wicox is smiling because he has ripped off Santa Monica residents for millions of dollars in subsidized services that serves his own $pecial interest while polluting the city with his noise and toxic fumes. Time to put and end to this favoritism that serves the ultra rich and harms everyone else.

Apr. 4, 2014, 2:27:17 pm

Mindy Taylor-Ross said...

The runway is too short,

Apr. 4, 2014, 5:13:50 pm

Fair is fair said...

Quit your whining Nimby neighbors. We're going to put it to a vote and let the people decide. You can't be both the bully and the victim. The people of Santa Monica will decide what's best and you'll have to deal with it or move. The airport didn't magically appear after you moved in.

Apr. 4, 2014, 5:21:08 pm

Dollar Bill said...

I'm not sure Richie Rich was the best poster guy for SMO. Many pilots and aircraft operators are not wealthy CEOs. There are lots of pilots who are very middle class. That luxury car in your driveway may be worth more than a Cessna. This really isn't about the pilots and the neighbors and their personal wealth. It's more about both sides having wealthy interest groups who are going to fight it out. May the best dollars win.

Apr. 4, 2014, 9:59:37 pm

50 Cent Fred said...

Let's see, the median income of a General Aviation aircraft owner's household in the United States is $200,000. The median income of Santa Monica residents in the census track that contains the airport is $65,446. Considering that their are only 311 registered FAA pilots in ALL of the city of Santa Monica, they sure have gotten their money's worth in city subsidies over the years to keep their private hobby going - because they obviously, need all the help they can get.

Apr. 4, 2014, 10:04:17 pm

Candy said...

The airport is one of the best assets of this City! Once the airport is gone, everyone will complain about traffic and car pollution. Or, the LAX air traffic that will be inevitable with open air space without SMO. People will always find something to complain about. I live by the beach with constant helicopter noise and traffic while people constantly search for parking. I am sure I am breathing in lots of pollution, but I chose to live here knowing this. We live in a metropolitan beach city. If you want suburbia, move to Bakersfield.

Apr. 7, 2014, 12:53:03 pm

quick said...

Did you dumbasses see that airport there when you moved right next to it ????

Apr. 6, 2014, 9:44:33 am

BMW said...

Don't worry, the airport isn't going anywhere. Wall Street, Bankers, wealthy westsiders - all own or use planes. SMO is convenient for them. The 99 centers can whine all they want and the city will pander but in the end, the feds will step in for the sake of the wealthy. As always. Money always wins in America.

Apr. 7, 2014, 4:42:04 pm

Charlie said...

I got my private pilot's license at SMO twenty years ago. It is one of my favorite memories of living in Los Angeles, and it makes me sad to see folks trying to tear the place down. The history of the airport is fascinating, and for what it's worth they built it in the middle of orchards. Homes came later, along with their entitled owners. The airport is a treasure, and I'm no rich guy.

Apr. 9, 2014, 10:47:44 am

Bruce said...

It's unbelievable that the city of Santa Monica, this paper, and Mr. Morris would perpetuate and glorify travel by private jet. We've banned smoking in public places, plastic bags, we drive Prii, recycle whenever possible... and yet you freely condone the most inefficient and negatively impactful method of transportation on this planet. Where is your social responsibility now? I have no doubt in 100 years Alex Wilcox and his clients will be remembered (if at all) as the last generation of self-righteous douchebags.

Apr. 10, 2014, 11:26:44 am

Joyce Botnik said...

Is there any way to find out who the passengers are? I'll immediately boycott any company that's using JetSuite out of Santa Monica.

Apr. 12, 2014, 10:35:02 am

I call BS said...

Hey Bruce and Joyce, you total hypocrites! You'd better stop buying anything and everything you didn't grow or make yourself because corporate air travel is done by virtually all big business. And I suppose you never fly on the airlines? You're like religious nuts casting stones and passing judgement but you don't have all the facts. Corporate aircraft use isn't all rich guys flying to Vegas but unfortunately that is what the public believes. Regardless, I call BS on your motives because I'm sure you have you're own reasons for wanting the airport closes that have nothing to do with this fake outrage.

Jun. 30, 2014, 10:35:36 pm

No jets said...

Order a No Jerts lawn sign

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