Business flying 'fuels' Missouri aviation growth

November 20, 2013

Economic activity generated by Missouri’s airports grew 17.1 percent in the last decade, fueled by business aviation and undeterred by a recession that struck in 2007, said the state’s Department of Transportation in a newly released report.

Directly and indirectly, in 2012 Missouri’s 99 public-use general aviation airports and nine commercial-service airports accounted for $11.1 billion in economic output, or 4.3 percent of the state’s $258 billion gross state product. That volume translated to 100,621 jobs—or about one of every 35 jobs in the state’s overall work force.

Those conclusions highlight the 2012 Missouri Statewide Airports Economic Impact Study based on surveys of airport management and businesses, visiting pilots, and their passengers conducted through May 2013.

Not only do economic impact studies provide a valuable planning tool for state transportation officials—the periodically updated reports provide pilots and other aviation advocates with current data for educating local officials and the public on the economic benefits of communities’ airports. That makes the reports a valuable resource for pilots to use when demonstrating how the economic return produced by an airport goes well beyond the tax dollars spent to operate and maintain it, said Yasmina Platt, AOPA’s Central/Southwest regional manager.

Platt urged Missouri pilots to download the report’s executive summary and share it with local officials, civic organizations, and other members of the community.

By analyzing both direct and indirect economic impacts produced by airports, the study could develop a multiplier effect for calculating the total economic effect generated by the aviation system on businesses, jobs, restaurants, lodging, entertainment, and other tourism-related activity.

Missouri’s general aviation sector, in the decade since the previous report, has evolved “to a much higher focus on support of business,” than in the past, it said. Despite some significant changes, such as the loss of a major airline hub, "since 2002, the output of Missouri’s airports has increased by over $1 billion, demonstrating the value of the industry to the State’s overall economy."

From freight haulers, charter operators, and agricultural aviation concerns, the report highlighted the unique general aviation businesses to be found in Missouri. It profiled several individual aviation businesses and organizations, including the Cape Copters helicopter training-and-services company and the nonprofit humanitarian volunteer-pilot organization Wings of Hope.

The study estimated that 264,000 visitors arrive annually at Missouri’s GA airports.

"A strong aviation system in Missouri helps attract, maintain, and support business and industry growth while creating jobs statewide," the report said.

It added, "Some businesses own or charter general aviation aircraft, many have employees that travel regularly on commercial airlines, others have customers or suppliers who use the airport system to reach them, and a high number rely on air cargo and express services."

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.