Pilots and other aviation advocates don’t have to wing it when explaining to policymakers and the public how airports make a valuable contribution to the economy, boost job growth, and protect the public’s well-being.
The case can be made with hard facts and round numbers to be found in economic impact studies prepared regularly as updates to the transportation planning undertaken in the states.
In Louisiana, for example, a newly released study of the economic impact of the state’s 69 airports was released in June. It analyzed the state’s aviation system and identified an estimated $6.75 billion a year in direct economic output by aviation as well as $1.76 billion in annual payroll, and 58,853 jobs supported by airports.
General aviation airports contribute $967 million a year, and generate payrolls of $297 million, distributed among 9,307 jobs, the report said.
The economic output numbers include expenditures by airport businesses, about 3.6 million visitors to Louisiana, and a multiplier effect to gauge the total impact of the aviation economy.
The report, "Louisiana Airports Economic Impact Study," is the latest in a series of studies launched in 2011 by the state’s Department of Transportation and Development’s Aviation Division as part of the Louisiana Aviation System Plan.
AOPA serves on the state’s aviation advisory council, providing a voice for general aviation concerning the allocation of state resources for the upkeep of the airport system, said Yasmina Platt, AOPA Central Southwest regional manager.
Advocacy efforts are strengthened when members can tap the same informational resources that are used by state-level planning officials to allocate resources for capital improvements, she said.
"Members can use this information to educate public officials regarding the benefits and economic impact of general aviation to their local communities and their state," she said, noting that each airport in the study "has its own brochure with important information."
The report noted that other services provided by GA and airports include medical transportation, search-and-rescue capabilities, disaster relief, protection of ecosystems, military flight training, crop protection, and other agricultural flying.
In a related project to distribute information about aviation more easily and widely, state aviation officials have developed an online map that puts the details about specific airports just a click away on the department’s website, Platt said.