America’s commercial airports are powerful economic engines – generating billions of dollars in annual activity, and supporting millions of good, stable jobs. A new study for Airports Council International-North America illustrates that vibrant airports are essential for communities as they seek to grow their employment base and attract new businesses.

Major Contributor to the U.S. Economy

A new analysis by CDM Smith for Airports Council International-North America shows that the nation’s commercial airports account for more than 7 percent of national GDP.

The analysis summarizes contributions of 485 commercial service airports to the U.S. economy in 2014, using methodology approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to measure aviation’s economic contributions, including employment, payroll, and on-airport and multiplier impacts.

Using data from more than 90 state and airport economic impact studies, the study regression analysis found that U.S. commercial airports support nearly 9.6 million jobs with an annual payroll worth $358 billion, and produce a total output of $1.1 trillion.

These modern economic engines –

  • Do not drain local tax dollars away from other government services even though nearly all of them are publicly owned and operated.
  • Are largely self-sustaining, financed through fees assessed on users of the airports’ services and facilities, including passengers and airlines.

The biggest challenges facing America’s commercial airports are improving local empowerment so that commercial airports can make the infrastructure investments needed to sustain this level of economic contribution well into the 2020s.

According to ACI-NA’s latest infrastructure report, airports need to step up the pace of investment and construction to keep up with projected passenger travel growth and local development needs.