The general state appropriations bill signed into law by Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt May 24 includes $2 million for aviation infrastructure upgrades that could help meet demand for hangar construction and launch other airport economic development projects.
Grayson Ardies, Oklahoma’s state director of aeronautics, credited “airports, pilots and aviation enthusiasts across the state” and the staff of the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission with effectiveness in promoting the economic dynamism of the state’s $44 billion aviation industry and making its infrastructure needs known to policymakers.
AOPA welcomed the positive development for aviation in Oklahoma, especially the potential launch of a program to build more hangars to meet strong demand pressures that are being faced by airports in Oklahoma and elsewhere, according to a recent AOPA survey. Expansion of capacity would also increase revenue at airports that move forward with hangar construction projects, said Tom Chandler, AOPA Central Southwest regional manager.
Although the aviation funding win included in the $9 billion spending blueprint for fiscal 2022 represents the culmination of years of advocacy and relationship building in the aviation community, Ardies noted that “the work is just beginning.”
“This will not be a one and done effort, it will be a continual evolution that will need to be fostered to ensure that the needs of Oklahoma airports will be met to further grow and expand aviation and aerospace in Oklahoma communities,” he said.
According to the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission, the aviation and aerospace segment supports 206,000 jobs that generate a $11.7 billion payroll and an average salary of $73,300, “making it one of the highest average salaries in the state.”