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Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport is an economic engine for the Arizona
January 24, 2011
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  • By Art Thomason

    January 19, 2011

    Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport poured $685 million in fiscal 2010 into the economy of Maricopa and western Pinal counties and supporting nearly 4,200 jobs, according to the findings of a study by Arizona State University.

    Add an estimated $600 million in activity generated by two colleges and an Air Force Research Lab that share space with the airport, and the economic impact exceeds $1 billion, airport officials said.

    The study, released Tuesday, did not account for ASU Polytechnic, Chandler-Gilbert Community College and the lab because they operate independently of the airport.

    The airport’s contribution to the economy is striking, considering its dramatic climb during the past two years while the nation’s economy was mired in a recession, said Lee McPheters, an ASU research professor who led the study for the L. William Seidman Research Institute.

    “This is a story of significant economic impact,” McPheters said as he presented his findings to the airport’s governing board.

    The numbers show on-site economic activity rising 121 percent and spending in nearby related businesses increasing 86 percent in 2010 compared with 2008, the last time that such a study was conducted.

    On-site airport revenue was $273.2 million in 2010, up from $123.6 million in 2008.

    McPheters said airport employment rose by 45 percent, and he attributed much of the airport’s success to the growth of economic activity by 44 private employers that lease space at Gateway.

    Allegiant Air, for example, the airport’s only regularly scheduled airline, has expanded service to 28 cities from 13 since the carrier’s inaugural flight to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Oct. 25, 2007.

    “Allegiant was an important part of on-airport revenues, since about 100,000 passenger trips originated at Gateway, generating ticket sales,” McPheters said.

    “As passengers increased, Allegiant added to staff,” he said. “But don’t underestimate the importance of Cessna, Beechcraft and Embraer, along with other employers, including auto rental.”

    McPheters said the study examined the direct spending from both airport activity and visitors’ activities off the airport in fiscal 2010.

    That totaled $378.5 million. When added with “successive rounds of re-spending that money,” the total impact was $685 million, he said.

    Date: 2011-01-19