Open main menu

Santa Barbara Municipal Airport (IATA: SBA, ICAO: KSBA, FAA LID: SBA) is 7 miles (11 km) west of downtown Santa Barbara, California. SBA covers 948 acres (384 ha) of land.[2]

Santa Barbara Airport
Santa Barbara Municipal Airport (logo).svg
Santa Barbara Municipal Airport photo D Ramey Logan.jpg
Santa Barbara Municipal Airport, March, 2015
Airport typePublic
OwnerCity of Santa Barbara
OperatorSanta Barbara Airport Department
ServesSanta Barbara, California
LocationSanta Barbara, California, United States
Focus city forContour Airlines[1]
Elevation AMSL13 ft / 4 m
Coordinates34°25′34″N 119°50′25″W / 34.42611°N 119.84028°W / 34.42611; -119.84028Coordinates: 34°25′34″N 119°50′25″W / 34.42611°N 119.84028°W / 34.42611; -119.84028
WebsiteSanta Barbara Airport
Runway layout at SBA
Runway layout at SBA
SBA is located in California
SBA is located in the United States
SBA (the United States)
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

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 borders a wetland area, the Goleta Slough.

Santa Barbara Airport, new terminal

Seven airlines serve or plan to serve the airport as of February 2019 with non-stop flights to Denver, Los Angeles, and San Francisco by United Airlines; Portland and Seattle by Alaska Airlines; Phoenix and Dallas/Fort Worth by American Airlines; Denver by Frontier Airlines; Minneapolis by Sun Country Airlines; Oakland, Sacramento, and Las Vegas by Contour Airlines, and Salt Lake City by Delta Airlines. In 2017, more than 710,000 passengers used the airport.

Two fixed-base operators[discuss] are on the field, Signature Flight Support and Atlantic Aviation, and three flight schools, Above All Aviation, Santa Barbara Aviation Inc. and Spitfire Aviation.[citation needed]

In addition to regularly scheduled flights offered by other airlines, Santa Barbara Aviation offers on-demand Jet Charter in Cessna Citation CJ aircraft to any destination and Surf Air flies eight-seat Pilatus PC-12s to Burbank and San Carlos in California via a membership only, pay-as-you-fly program.[3]


Early yearsEdit

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.[4]

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-300s Los Angeles - Santa Barbara - Santa Maria - San Luis Obispo - Paso Robles - Monterey - Salinas - San Jose - San Francisco.[5] Pacific Seaboard later moved its entire operation to the eastern U.S. and became Chicago and Southern Air Lines, a large domestic and international airline acquired by and merged into Delta Air Lines in 1953.[6] United Airlines began flights from Santa Barbara/Goleta in 1936.

As war approached the United States Government established a program to build 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.[7]

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 developmentsEdit

In 1947 the Santa Barbara Flying Club was formed to promote general aviation in the region.[8]

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 an American Eagle Saab 340B turboprop aircraft for a flight to Los Angeles in October 2008

Southwest Airways and successorsEdit

Until 2002, Santa Barbara Airport was on a jet route to San Francisco and Los Angeles. The airport was served by Southwest Airways Douglas DC-3s and Martin 4-0-4s and by successors Pacific Air Lines, Air West and Hughes Airwest with Fairchild F-27s 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 flying Los Angeles-Oxnard-Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-San Luis Obispo-Coalinga-Monterey-Santa Cruz/Watsonville-San Jose-San Francisco. The first jets were Pacific Air Lines Boeing 727-100s in 1966; the January 4, 1967 timetable lists 727s flying 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.[9]


The United Airlines timetable for February 1, 1937 listed a daily Douglas DC-3 Los Angeles-Santa Barbara-San Francisco-Oakland and back. In 1972 the United timetable listed direct Boeing 727-100s to New York Newark via LAX and Milwaukee.[10] The primary United routes from Santa Barbara were nonstops to Los Angeles and San Francisco with some continuing to other cities. The first nonstop flights beyond California were United Boeing 727s to Denver in 1979 and to Chicago O'Hare in 1980. United ceased mainline jet service to SBA in 1990. Shuttle by United, a division of United Airlines (later renamed United Shuttle) flew 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 now operates as United Express. Service was originally on Embraer 120 aircraft to SFO and LAX and CRJ200 to Denver. This was later turned over to a mix of SkyWest CRJ200, CRJ700, and E175. On June 8, 2017 United resumed seasonal mainline service to San Francisco and Denver.


American Airlines McDonnell Douglas MD-80s started flying to Dallas/Fort Worth in 1984, some on a triangle route DFW-Burbank-SBA-DFW or DFW-Bakersfield-SBA-DFW. American also flew MD-80s to Chicago O'Hare via Ontario. After American Airlines dropped mainline service to SBA, American Eagle Airlines, its affiliate, began flying Saab 340Bs and later Embraer ERJ-140s between SBA and LAX. American Eagle flew Canadair CRJ-700s between SBA and DFW until April 2009. The airline flew SBA-LAX until November 14, 2012 when SkyWest Airlines (American Eagle) took over with Canadair CRJ-200s. American Eagle suspended its flights to Los Angeles on March 31, 2014, ending American Airlines service at the airport. With the merger of US Airways and American, American Airlines returned to SBA with nonstop American Eagle regional jet service to Phoenix. In June 2016 American Eagle relaunched nonstop service to Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) on Mesa Airlines Canadair CRJ-900s.[11] On April 4, 2017 American Airlines began a seasonal mainline Airbus A319 flight to DFW, the first mainline service since 2015 when Frontier Airlines left Santa Barbara. In September of 2019, the DFW flights have been replaced with two daily Envoy Air E-175's.


Alaska-owned regional airline Horizon Air was the first Alaska affiliate to connect SBA with Seattle and Portland, flying Canadair CRJ-700s. From 2008 to 2010, Horizon also connected Santa Barbara non-stop to Sacramento and direct to Portland and/or Seattle. In 2011 Skywest Airlines took over the Horizon Canadair CRJ-700 jets and later replaced them with Embraer E175s, replacing Horizon for all Alaska-branded flying into Santa Barbara and continues to operate flights via a capacity purchase agreement with Alaska Airlines. From June 15, 2017 to August 26, 2017, Horizon returned to Santa Barbara by taking over the Seattle route from SkyWest with its own Embraer E175s. On August 27, 2017 Alaska Airlines began mainline service to Santa Barbara for the first time when it took over the Seattle route from Horizon with its own Boeing 737s.

Sun CountryEdit

Sun Country Airlines served Santa Barbara twice weekly between August and December to Minneapolis/St. Paul on Boeing 737s. Service began on August 16th, 2018, and ended on December 9th, 2018. On May 22nd, 2019, Sun Country resumed seasonal service with an increase to four times a week for the 2019 season. At the end of the 2019 season, Sun Country has indicated that they do not plan to return in 2020.


Frontier Airlines flew to Denver until 2015. Starting August 21st, 2018, Frontier began three times a week year-round service to Denver on the Airbus A320. After the 2019 season, it has been announced they will go seasonal with plans to return in Spring of 2020.


Contour Airlines began service on October 16th, 2018. They fly daily to Oakland International Airport and 10 times a week to Las Vegas McCarran International Airport using a fleet of 30-seat ERJ-135s. Contour recently announced an expansion of Santa Barbara as a focus city, and added a flight to Sacramento International Airport in April 2019.


Delta Airlines began three daily flights to Salt Lake City International Airport in August of 2019. The flights are operated with ERJ-175 aircraft.[12]

Locally based commuter airlinesEdit

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.[13] Another locally based airline was Connectair operating Fairchild F-27J turboprops with nonstop flights to Los Angeles, Las Vegas and San Jose, CA.[14] Both air carriers are no longer in existence.

Other jet airlinesEdit

Frontier Airlines Airbus A319s flew nonstop to Denver until January 6, 2015. Pacific Air Lines flew Boeing 727-100s to Los Angeles, San Francisco and Monterey, Continental Airlines Boeing 737-300s flew nonstop to Denver (some flights stopped at Bakersfield enroute to SBA), Air West (later Hughes Airwest) Boeing 727-100s, Douglas DC-9-10s, and McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30s flew to Los Angeles, San Francisco and other cities, Allegiant Air McDonnell Douglas MD-80s flew to Las Vegas, Pacific Express BAC One-Elevens flew to Los Angeles, San Francisco and Bakersfield, Air Wisconsin (United Express) BAe 146-200s and BAe 146-300s flew to Denver, and ExpressJet flew Embraer ERJ-145s nonstop to Sacramento and San Diego.

Other past commuter airline serviceEdit

A number of commuter air carriers served Santa Barbara over the years primarily with turboprop aircraft. In 1968, Cable Commuter Airlines was operating de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter service to LAX.[15] Cable Commuter was then acquired by Golden West Airlines which in turn began operating high frequency shuttle service to LAX with de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter, de Havilland Canada DHC-7 Dash 7 and Short 330 aircraft.[16] According to the Official Airline Guide (OAG), by 1981 Golden West was the only airline operating scheduled service between Santa Barbara and Los Angeles with fourteen round trip flights on weekdays. Other commuter air carriers that served SBA with turboprop aircraft in later years included America West Express, American Eagle operated by Wings West, Dash Air, Delta Connection operated by SkyWest Airlines, Imperial Airlines, Sun Aire Lines, United Express operated by West Air and later by SkyWest Airlines, USAir Express and successor US Airways Express operated by Trans States Airlines and StatesWest Airlines.[17] According to the OAG, turboprop aircraft operated into SBA by these commuter airlines included the Beechcraft 1900C, British Aerospace BAe Jetstream 31, de Havilland Canada DHC-8 Dash 8, Embraer EMB-110 Bandeirante, Embraer EMB-120 Brasilia, Fairchild Swearingen Metroliner (Metro II and Metro III models), Saab 340B and Short 360. In addition, Air Resorts operated Convair 440 prop aircraft on flights to LAX in 1983.[18]

Current air serviceEdit

Alaska Airlines serves Seattle with the Boeing 737 and its regional subsidiary Horizon Air serves Portland with the Embraer E-175.

American Airlines (through its regional affiliate American Eagle) serves Phoenix with Mesa CRJ-900s, SkyWest CRJ-700s, and American Airbus A319s. Dallas-Fort Worth is served with Envoy Air E-175s and American A319s.

Contour Airlines serves Las Vegas, Oakland, and Sacramento using the Embraer 135.

Delta Airlines serves Salt Lake City using Embraer E-175s.

Frontier Airlines serves Denver seasonally with the Airbus A320.

United Airlines (through its regional affiliate United Express) serves Los Angeles with a mix of SkyWest CRJ-200/CRJ-700/E-175 regional jets. United and United Express serve San Francisco and Denver with a mix of SkyWest CRJ-200/CRJ-700/E-175s, mainline Airbus A319/320 aircraft, and Go-Jet CRJ-700s (to Denver only).

New terminalEdit

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). It was originally designed to feature 4 glass passenger boarding bridges and 4 hardstands, but due to decreased flight activity, 3 jetbridges were constructed with 5 hardstands. [19]

In 2019, the 4th boarding bridge will be installed to replace a hardstand to help the airport cope with increased flight activity and upgauging. Relocation of the car rental lot will also allow all 4 jetbridges to accommodate mainline aircraft, up from 2 currently. Further changes are being explored to help keep up with the increased passenger counts.

Airlines and destinationsEdit


Top destinationsEdit

Busiest routes from SBA
(August 2018 – July 2019)[21]
Rank Airport Passengers Carriers
1 San Francisco, California 99,840 United
2 Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Arizona 92,940 American
3 Denver, Colorado 90,220 Frontier, United
4 Los Angeles, California 46,960 United
5 Seattle/Tacoma, Washington 45,000 Alaska
6 Dallas/Fort Worth,Texas 29,480 American
7 Portland, Oregon 21,930 Alaska
8 Oakland, California 8,100 Contour
9 Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota 6,430 Sun Country
10 Las Vegas, Nevada 5,670 Contour

Annual trafficEdit

Annual passenger traffic at SBA
(enplaned + deplaned)
1998 through 2017[22]
Year Passengers
1998 823,160
1999 792,548
2000 776,904
2001 725,140
2002 731,464
2003 752,762
2004 823,935
2005 855,371
2006 858,549
2007 819,327
2008 817,093
2009 746,730
2010 754,071
2011 721,551
2012 727,679
2013 708,854
2014 662,661
2015 627,048
2016 658,955
2017 710,614

See alsoEdit


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b FAA Airport Master Record for SBA (Form 5010 PDF), effective June 21, 2018.
  3. ^ Aviation International News, April, 2014 edition, Vol. 46, No. 4, page 66, "Wave Off at Surf Air"
  4. ^ "Santa Barbara - Airport".
  5. ^, Summer 1933 Pacific Seaboard Air Lines timetable
  6. ^, Chicago and Southern (C&S) Air Lines
  7. ^ Marine Corps Air Station Santa Barbara
  8. ^ "Santa Barbara Flying Club".
  9. ^ February 1, 1976 Official Airlines Guide (OAG), North American edition
  10. ^, June 1, 1972 United Airlines timetable
  11. ^ "New Air Service Begins to Dallas/Forth [sic] Worth from Santa Barbara". February 19, 2016. Retrieved February 20, 2016.
  12. ^ Hayden, Tyler. "Delta Air Lines Adds Santa Barbara to Its Destinations". Retrieved 2019-02-04.
  13. ^, July 1, 1984 Pacific Coast Airlines route map
  14. ^,Sept. 18, 1985 Connectair route map
  15. ^, Dec. 1, 1968 Cable Commuter Airlines system timetable
  16. ^, Nov. 15, 1979 & April 1, 1981 editions, Official Airline Guide (OAG), Los Angeles-Santa Barbara flight schedules
  17. ^, Official Airline Guide (OAG), Los Angeles-Santa Barbara flight schedules, April 1, 1983; Feb. 15, 1985; Dec. 15, 1989; Oct. 1, 1991; April 2, 1995; June 1, 1999 editions
  18. ^, April 1, 1983 Official Airline Guide (OAG), Los Angeles-Santa Barbara flight schedules
  19. ^ "Santa Barbara - Airport".
  20. ^
  21. ^ "Santa Barbara, CA: Santa Barbara Municipal Airport (SBA)". Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Sep 16, 2019. Retrieved Sep 16, 2019.
  22. ^ "Reports. Retrieved on April 28, 2018". Retrieved 2018-07-11.

External linksEdit