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Santa Barbara Municipal Airport

Santa Barbara Airport
Santa Barbara Municipal Airport March, 2015.
Airport type Public
Owner City of Santa Barbara
Operator Santa Barbara Airport Department
Serves Santa Barbara, California
Location Santa Barbara, California, United States
Elevation AMSL 13 ft / 4 m
Runway layout at SBA
Runway layout at SBA
SBA is located in California
Location in California
Direction Length Surface
ft m
7/25 6,052 1,845 Asphalt
15L/33R 4,180 1,274 Asphalt
15R/33L 4,184 1,275 Asphalt

Santa Barbara Municipal Airport (ICAO: KSBAFAA LID: SBA) is a public airport 7 miles (11 km) west of downtown Santa Barbara, California, United States.

It is near the University of California, Santa Barbara and the city of Goleta. The airport was annexed to the city of Santa Barbara by a 7 miles (11 km) long, 300 feet (90 m) wide corridor, mostly under the Pacific Ocean (a shoestring annexation). Most of the airport is 10 to 15 feet above sea level and is bordered by the wetland area known as the Goleta Slough.

Santa Barbara Airport new terminal

Three commercial airlines serve the airport as of January 2015 with non-stop flights to Denver, Los Angeles, and San Francisco by United Airlines; Phoenix by US Airways/American Airlines; and Portland and Seattle by Alaska Airlines. SBA has 21 daily commercial departures, and in 2013 more than 710,000 passengers used the airport.

There are two fix-based operators on the field, Signature Flight Support and Atlantic Aviation, and three flight schools, Above All Aviation, Red Baron Aviation, and Spitfire Aviation.

In addition to regularly scheduled flights offered by other airlines, Surf Air operates service to Burbank and San Carlos in California using seven seat Pilatus PC-12 turboprops via a membership only, pay-as-you-fly program.[1]

Private jets are used regularly by affluent residents in Santa Barbara and nearby Montecito, California.


  • History 1
    • Early years 1.1
    • Postwar developments 1.2
    • Southwest Airways and successors 1.3
    • United 1.4
    • American 1.5
    • Alaska 1.6
    • Locally based regional airlines 1.7
    • Other airlines operating jet service in the past 1.8
    • Current air service 1.9
  • New terminal 2
  • Flight statistics 3
  • Airlines and destinations 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


Early years

Santa Barbara's aviation history began in 1914 when Lincoln J. Beachey flew an airplane across Goleta Valley. Two years later the Loughead brothers, who later changed their name to Lockheed, established a seaplane factory on State Street (Alco Hydro-Aeroplane Company) and constructed a wooden ramp on West Beach to launch their planes. In 1928, Gordon Sackett and Royce Stetson landed a Hisso-powered airplane in a cow pasture near the corner of Hollister and Fairview Avenues and set up a flight school on the spot. That first airstrip marked the beginning of what was to become the Santa Barbara Municipal Airport.

As airplane manufacturing grew in the late 1930s that airstrip developed into an airfield. Western General set up shop and began producing Meteor airplanes, while Santa Barbara Airways' founder Frederick Stearns II built two additional runways and two large hangars. Stearns also installed the first radio equipment at the airfield.[2]

Airline flights began in 1932 on Pacific Seaboard Air Lines. In 1933, Pacific Seaboard was operating two daily round trip flights with single engine Bellanca CH-300 aircraft on an intrastate routing of Los Angeles - Santa Barbara - Santa Maria - San Luis Obispo - Paso Robles - Monterey - Salinas - San Jose - San Francisco.[3] Pacific Seaboard would subsequently move its entire operation to the eastern U.S., be renamed Chicago and Southern Air Lines, become a large domestic and international airline and then in 1953 be acquired by and merged into Delta Air Lines thus providing Delta with its first international routes.[4] United Airlines then inaugurated flights from Santa Barbara/Goleta in 1936. United would provide mainline passenger air service for many years at the airport.

As the prospect of war escalated the United States Government established a program to construct 250 airports across the country on a cost-sharing basis with local governments. Thomas M. Storke secured Santa Barbara's enrollment in the program, and in 1941 groundbreaking ceremonies were held for the Santa Barbara Municipal Airport.

With the outbreak of WWII the airport became MCAS Santa Barbara (Marine Corps Air Station Santa Barbara) in 1942, an aviator training base for the U.S Marines. It was expanded further with the addition of many hangars and other buildings, and reverted to a civilian airport in 1946.[5]

Original passenger terminal building

The original Spanish-style terminal building, commissioned by United Airlines in 1942 was designed by William Edwards and Joseph Plunkett, an architectural team whose work, including the Arlington Theatre and the National Armory, helped shape the Mediterranean style of the city.

Postwar developments

In 1947 the Santa Barbara Flying Club was formed to promote general aviation in the region.[6]

In the 1951 war film Flying Leathernecks, John Wayne's character was stationed in Goleta. The movie references the airbase as being in Goleta because, during World War II, the airbase had not yet been annexed by Santa Barbara. The movie has a short clip of the airport and surrounding area.

Three runways are in use: 7/25 and two parallel runways 15/33. The airport originally had an additional strip: runway 3/21. The development of the University of California, Santa Barbara (to the southwest) and the construction of hangars in support of production of the Aero Spacelines Super Guppy (to the northeast) were factors in the removal of this runway.

Passengers boarding a Saab 340B turboprop aircraft for a flight to Los Angeles in October 2008.

Southwest Airways and successors

Until 2002 Santa Barbara Airport was on a mainline jet route between San Francisco and Los Angeles operated by several air carriers over the years. The airport was served by Southwest Airways with Douglas DC-3 and Martin 4-0-4 prop aircraft and also by successors Pacific Air Lines, Air West and Hughes Airwest with Fairchild F-27 turboprops and Boeing 727-100, Douglas DC-9-10 and McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30 jets. The Southwest March 1, 1947 timetable lists two round trip Douglas DC-3s on a routing of Los Angeles-Oxnard-Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-San Luis Obispo-Coalinga-Monterey-Santa Cruz/Watsonville-San Jose-San Francisco. The first jet service was operated by Pacific Air Lines with Boeing 727-100s in 1966; their January 4, 1967 timetable lists 727s on a routing of San Francisco-Monterey-Santa Barbara-Los Angeles. Air West served the airport with the B727-100s formerly operated by Pacific Air Lines while Hughes Airwest served Santa Barbara with Douglas DC-9-10s and McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30s.[7]


The United Airlines system timetable dated February 1, 1937 listed daily round trip service flown with a Douglas DC-3 twin prop aircraft on a routing of Los Angeles-Santa Barbara-San Francisco-Oakland. By 1972, the United timetable listed direct, no change of plane Boeing 727 jet service to New York Newark. The primary jet routes initially flown by United from Santa Barbara were nonstops to Los Angeles and San Francisco with some flights then continuing on to other destinations. The first nonstop flights beyond California were flown by United with Boeing 727s to Denver in 1979 and to Chicago O'Hare in 1980. Over the years, United operated Boeing 727-100, 727-200, 737-200 and 737-300 jetliners into Santa Barbara. United left SBA in 1990. Shuttle by United, a division of United Airlines (later renamed United Shuttle) operated mainline Boeing 737-300s and 737-500s to San Francisco in the 1990s and early 2000s. United then turned all service over to SkyWest Airlines which currently operates as United Express.


American Airlines started nonstop McDonnell Douglas MD-80s to Dallas Fort-Worth International (DFW) in 1984, sometimes on a triangle routing of DFW-Burbank-SBA-DFW or DFW-Bakersfield-SBA-DFW. American also operated direct MD-80 service to Chicago O'Hare (ORD) via Ontario (ONT). After American Airlines dropped SBA, American Eagle, a regional affiliate of American Airlines began flying Saab 340s and later Embraer ERJ-140s between Santa Barbara and Los Angeles, and Canadair CRJ-700s between Santa Barbara and Dallas Fort Worth. American Eagle ended its flights to DFW in April 2009 but continued to serve LAX from the airport until turning it over to SkyWest Airlines via a codeshare agreement with American. SkyWest operating as American Eagle Airlines began flying Canadair CRJ-200 regional jets to Los Angeles on behalf of American Airlines on November 14, 2012. American Airlines via American Eagle ended its only remaining Santa Barbara service to Los Angeles on March 31, 2014. Until the American Airlines merger with US Airways becomes complete sometime in 2015, American Airlines passengers will be able to use code share US Airways Express Canadair regional jet flights to Phoenix in order to fly out of Santa Barbara.


Alaska Airlines never served Santa Barbara directly with mainline aircraft, but has had various regional affiliates fly routes over the last decade. Alaska-owned regional airline Horizon Air was the first Alaska affiliate to connect SBA with Seattle and Portland, flying Canadair CRJ-700 series regional jets. From 2008 to 2010, Horizon also connected Santa Barbara non-stop to Sacramento with continuing direct, no change of plane service to the Portland and/or Seattle. In 2011, Skywest Airlines operating CRJ-700 regional jets replaced Horizon for all Alaska-branded flying into Santa Barbara and continues to operate flights via a code sharing agreement with Alaska Airlines connecting SBA with the Pacific Northwest.

Locally based regional airlines

In the 1980s Santa Barbara-based Apollo Airways, a commuter airline which subsequently changed its name to Pacific Coast Airlines, flew Handley Page HP.137 Jetstream propjets from the airport with nonstop service to Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Francisco, San Jose, CA, Monterey, Fresno and Bakersfield with direct flights to Sacramento and Lake Tahoe.[8] Another locally based airline was Connectair operating Fairchild F-27J turboprops with nonstop flights to Los Angeles, Las Vegas and San Jose, CA.[9] Both air carriers are no longer in existence.

Other airlines operating jet service in the past

Until January 2015, the current version of Frontier Airlines was operating nonstop service between SBA and Denver on Airbus A319 aircraft. Frontier suspended service to Santa Barbara on January 6, 2015. Besides American and United, other airlines operating jets from SBA included Pacific Air Lines with Boeing 727-100s to Los Angeles, San Francisco and Monterey, Continental Airlines with nonstop Boeing 737-300s to Denver, Air West (later renamed Hughes Airwest by owner Howard Hughes) with Boeing 727-100s as well as Douglas DC-9-10s and McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30s to Los Angeles, San Francisco and other cities, Allegiant Air with McDonnell Douglas MD-80s to Las Vegas, Pacific Express with British Aircraft Corporation BAC One-Elevens to Los Angeles, San Francisco and Bakersfield, Air Wisconsin (flying as United Express) with British Aerospace BAe 146-200 and BAe 146-300s to Denver, and ExpressJet flying Embraer ERJ-145s nonstop to Sacramento and San Diego.

Current air service

With the suspension of Frontier Airlines Airbus A319 service to Denver in January 2015, all commercial airlines operating out of Santa Barbara are regional airline affiliates flying smaller regional jet aircraft. SkyWest Airlines operates Canadair CRJ-700s flying as Alaska Airlines nonstop to Seattle and Portland. United Express flights to San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Denver operated by SkyWest use Canadair CRJ-200s and Canadair CRJ-700s. SkyWest and Mesa Airlines fly Canadair CRJ-200s and Canadair CRJ-900's as US Airways Express nonstop to Phoenix. [10]

New terminal

The original terminal building being prepared for moving and integration with the new terminal building

On August 18, 2011 the airport opened a new 72,000 square foot terminal to add to the single story terminal built by United Airlines in 1942. The new facility was built next to the existing terminal and cost approximately $63 million. Additions to the historic terminal made in 1967 and 1976 were removed and the original building was restored. It then was raised to meet modern flood plain regulations and moved and incorporated into the new terminal. The aircraft parking ramp was redesigned and a new loop road and short term parking lot were constructed. The new terminal building features many environmentally sustainable elements and is registered with the U.S. Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).[11]

Flight statistics

Busiest domestic routes from Santa Barbara (March 2014 - Feb 2015)[12]
Rank Airport Passengers Carriers
1 Phoenix, Arizona (PHX) 86,000 American
2 San Francisco, California 73,000 United
3 Los Angeles, California 70,000 United
4 Denver, Colorado 52,000 Frontier, United
5 Seattle/Tacoma, Washington 23,000 Alaska
6 Portland, Oregon 21,000 Alaska

Airlines and destinations

Airlines Destinations
Alaska Airlines
operated by SkyWest Airlines
Portland (OR), Seattle/Tacoma
American Eagle Phoenix
United Express Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco

See also


  • Santa Barbara Airport (official site)
  • FAA Airport Master Record for SBA (Form 5010 PDF)
  1. ^ Aviation International News, April, 2014 edition, Vol. 46, No. 4, page 66, "Wave Off at Surf Air"
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ Summer 1933 Pacific Seaboard Air Lines system timetable
  4. ^ Chicago and Southern (C&S) Air Lines
  5. ^ Marine Corps Air Station Santa Barbara
  6. ^ Santa Barbara Flying Club
  7. ^ February 1, 1976 Official Airlines Guide (OAG), North American edition
  8. ^ July 1, 1984 Pacific Coast Airlines route map
  9. ^,Sept 18, 1985 Connectair route map
  10. ^
  11. ^ [2]
  12. ^ "Santa Barbara, CA: Santa Barbara Municipal Airport (SBA)". Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Feb 28, 2015. Retrieved May 31, 2015. 

External links

  • FAA Airport Diagram (PDF), effective May 26, 2016
  • Resources for this airport:
    • AirNav airport information for KSBA
    • ASN accident history for SBA
    • FlightAware airport information and live flight tracker
    • NOAA/NWS latest weather observations
    • SkyVector aeronautical chart for KSBA
    • FAA current SBA delay information
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