Santa Barbara Municipal Airport

Monday, February 14, 2005
AIRPORT: Some small-business owners say they’re being forced out
The Associated Press

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (AP) – Some small business owners complain they are being forced out at Santa Barbara Municipal Airport in favor of lucrative corporate and private jet travelers. The city has become a corporate and airline airport. That’s where the money is,” said Brad Hensley, longtime owner of Navigation who’s losing his business location as part of the airport’s $70 million plan to redesign the quaint facility.

Hensley is among a group of pilots and business owners who feel squeezed out in favor of the move to cater to private and corporate jet travel. At least two businesses with longtime ties to the airport, the Red Baron flight school and Hensley’s Navigation have to move soon.

Although the city owns the airport, it leases much of its space to Signature Flight Support and Mercury Air. The companies handle air travel for most of the airport’s noncommercial flights and their leases don’t expire until 2014.

Red Baron and Navigation lease from Signature.

City officials said they have little choice but to sit back and watch the changes, said Airport Director Karen Ramsdell. Signature and Mercury have the right to control their leases, she said.