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Aviation economic benefits soar in Washington

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Date:  Thursday, April 26, 2012

Contact: John Shambaugh, WSDOT senior aviation planner, 360-651-6306

Impact study provides positive news on state's public airports

ARLINGTON – Washington's 135 public airports are continuing to help local economies take flight, generating thousands of jobs and millions of dollars for cities and counties throughout the state. The findings are just a few of the highlights from the recently-released 2012 Aviation Economic Impact Study. The study was conducted by the Washington State Department of Transportation's Aviation Division, which protects and preserves the state's system of public use airports. Data collected for the impact study provides a clear picture of how Washington's public use airports contribute to the economy. "The study helps us take a much closer, detailed look at our system in terms of its economic benefits and provides unique insight from the perspective of the airports, the industry and those who use our services," said Tristan Atkins, WSDOT aviation director. "Ultimately, it's a tool that helps us improve the way we do business." Highlights of the 2012 study include:

  • Statewide commercial and general aviation activity generate approximately 248,500 jobs, $15.3 billion in wages, and $50.9 billion in economic activity.
  • A significant share of aviation system contributions are from the mobility and connectivity of people, goods and services across all modes of transportation.
  • Smaller airport facilities are critical in providing access to life-saving medical air transport and other services such as disaster management and wildfire support.
  • Tax revenues generated from aviation activities provide the State of Washington General Fund more than $540 million annually. Cities, special purpose districts, and counties receive approximately $243 million in annual revenue.

"Our last study was completed in 2001, so this also helps us provide some much-needed updates to economic data such as the jobs, wages and types of businesses at each airport," Atkins said. "The 2012 study results speak for themselves – and the message is overwhelmingly positive."

In 2001, airports generated 171,300 jobs, more than $4 billion in wages and $18.5 billion in annual sales. The 2012 study uses different methods to present a more complete picture of the aviation system's economic impacts, resulting in increases of 77,200 jobs, $11.3 billion in wages, and $32.4 billion in sales compared to the 2001 study.

Working to brighten the airports' financial picture even further, WSDOT Aviation is creating an online calculator that will allow users to explore economic development opportunities, attract businesses and weigh investment choices at individual airports. The interactive economic calculator is scheduled to be completed this spring and will integrate with WSDOT's Airport Information System database, which provides an in-depth look at the state's airports.

Monitoring public use airports' impacts is just one of the roles of WSDOT's Aviation Division. WSDOT Aviation is also responsible for integrating aviation with the state's other transportation modes of highways, rail and ferries.


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