Online tool estimates airports' economic clout

November 2, 2012

You can look up facts and figures to estimate an airport’s economic impact, but what does the future hold?

In Washington State, a glimpse of that future is now possible after transportation officials developed an online tool to help planners estimate how changes in an airport’s activity might affect its capacity to function as an economic engine.

“When it comes to making good airport investment decisions, the more information the better,” said Tristan Atkins, aviation director for the Washington State Department of Transportation, in a news release announcing WSDOT’s new aviation economic impact calculator.

The online calculator lets a decision maker estimate how changes such as additional flight activity, businesses, or a capital project, might alter an airport’s economic output, WSDOT said. The tool provides “high-level estimates,” not specific projections, and makes available current activity and economic data on the state’s 136 public-use airports.

WSDOT developed the tool for its 2012 Aviation Economic Impact Study, which concluded that commercial and general aviation add approximately 248,500 jobs, $15.3 billion in wages, and $50.9 billion to the state’s economy.

Greg Pecoraro, AOPA vice president of airports and state advocacy, urged members to seek a similar resource for measuring and disseminating information on airports’ economic clout.

Dan Namowitz

Dan Namowitz | Aviation Writer

Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor. He has been a pilot since 1985 and an instructor since 1990.