So SMX is not even allowed to try?
At the expense of improving existing transportation services? No, I don't think they should. There is only a limited amount of funding available and with SBP being so close, it should have gone there. The airline industry has consolidated and moved toward bigger panes from fewer airports.
The wouldn't SMX fulfill that need being centrally located with the longer runway?
Regarding the Economic center of the region, Santa Maria is far south of the Central Coast economic center.
San Luis Obispo is directly between the North County population bases (Paso - Templeton - Atascadero) corridor, the Cambria-Morro Bay corridor and the Five Cities in South County.
San Luis Obispo County is Three times the size of Rhode Island. SLO is directly in the center of that area and has the only highways that run through the county North to South.
Santa Maria and Orcutt (and Lompoc Vandenberg Village etc.) while SM is 100K+ population and heavy in military people moving around still doesn't have the demographics to draw like San Luis with Cal Poly, the North County Wine and passenger draws and the nearby Five Cities tourism and other travel (mostly business now).
Regarding the long runway: The ERJ-175 has proven to be the regional jet of choice and is very comfortable and seems to work just fine at SBP.
A319s are seen in SBP quite often when the Mustangs are chartering a flight. 737's have been known to land now and then. The runway is longer than John Wayne in the OC.
Santa Maria, even with a long runway for whatever reason time and time again doesn't pan out. The economics have proven not to work at SMX for a number of airlines, but seeing as how airlines are now getting upset at SBP for being perhaps much busier than expected in recent times (maybe the airport expansion wasn't enough?) they are now apparently looking elsewhere, like SMX for overflow.
I wonder if SMX gets aggressive enough and it works if Paso tries to get commercial service again, and the Central Coast gets cannibalized a bit and SBP drops off.. could happen. Right now SBP is red-hot and last data shows traffic again going through the roof: https://www.sloairport.com/wp-content/u ... c-2019.pdf