In the same way that the engine is the beating heart of an aircraft, an airport is the economic growth engine for communities in today's global economy. With lower construction costs, now is the time to build the infrastructure to accommodate future growth in the aviation industry.
In the same way that the engine is the beating heart of an aircraft, an airport is the economic growth engine for communities large and small in today’s global economy.
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, for example, is Georgia’s largest economic engine. Not only is its passenger traffic important to the region’s economy, but other aspects of aviation are as well. Take air freight. Overall, it accounts for 40 percent of world trade volumes by value and is regarded as a leading indicator of international economic health. By enhancing the connectivity, quality of services and competitiveness of regional industry, airports can create jobs and spur economic growth.
Similar to Hartsfield-Jackson, New Century AirCenter — southwest of the Kansas City metropolitan area — is a vital asset, serving aviation needs for the surrounding region. New Century AirCenter is also a significant economic generator because of its direct, indirect and induced impact on the regional economy.
In fact, general aviation contributes more than $150 billion to U.S. economic output and employs nearly 1.3 million people whose collective annual earnings exceed $53 billion. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) cites civil aviation as a huge economic engine, generating 11 million jobs and an annual revenue impact of $11 trillion.
Priming the Engine
For an aircraft to take flight, the cold engine must be primed with fuel. Analogously, the airport as an economic engine must be similarly primed with funding.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provided $1.3 billion for aviation programs. Of that, $1.1 billion went to airport infrastructure projects, with the remainder providing for FAA facilities and equipment. More than 320 projects funded through the act are being constructed, which directly translates to more than 10,000 new jobs.
The Transportation Security Administration also received $1 billion to install explosives detection and checkpoint screening systems in airports.
It is clear that commercial and general aviation airports generate significant economic benefits for their communities. When the engine gets going, each dollar spent by aviation or aviation-dependent businesses generates an additional $1.52 in economic activity. Airport jobs are desirable, and the average airport wage is typically higher than the average salary in a region.
Aviation-related businesses and their employees annually contribute millions of dollars in local taxes, while aviation facilities have proven to attract new industry. Subsequently, for every job at the airport, nearly three are created in the visitor-related economy.
Recent capital needs studies shows that airports must invest more than $90 billion over the next five years on renovating and constructing infrastructure in order to keep pace with projected passenger and air cargo demand. With lower construction costs, now is the time to build the infrastructure to accommodate the 25 percent growth in service that the FAA predicts the aviation industry will see by 2021, when an estimated 1 billion air passengers will take to the skies.
The dedication of stimulus money to aviation infrastructure has proven a wise move. Because of the industry’s effective system for putting funds into action, this stimulus package has primed the airport economic engine to help the economy take off.