June 22, 2011
Blue Grass Airport generates an annual economic output of $370 million and payrolls of $104 million, according to a new report by Wilbur Smith Associates. Airport operations supported 3,478 jobs in 2010, the Cincinnati-based analysts report in a study being released today.
The Lexington airport has seven major airlines with nonstop flights to 15 hub cities as well as a recently expanded and modernized general aviation terminal for corporate and private aircraft. As the primary scheduled airline service provider to 54 Central and Eastern Kentucky counties, Bluegrass Airport had 1.1 million departing and arriving passengers in 2010.
The study was commissioned by the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Airport Board and was being presented today.
Using FAA origin and destination data, the study estimates 41.5 percent of enplaning passengers were visitors to the region with business travelers spending an average $440 per stay and leisure travelers $380, which does not include airfares or vehicle rentals.
Every $1 million in commercial airline visitor spending is estimate to support 12.9 Kentucky jobs, predominantly in the hospitality, retail and service industries, whose payroll is $20,700 apiece.
The economic impact assessment analysis calculated commercial airline service visitors were responsible for 1,236 jobs with a payroll of $25.6 million and economic output of $$95.9 million in the area, according to the Wilber Smith report. General aviation visitors added 162 jobs with payrolls of $3.3 million and economic output of $8.1 million.
Blue Grass Airport has 481 on-airport workers whose payroll totals $23 million. The airport produces $83 million in direct economic output. The airport’s $7.9 million in capital improvement projects in 2010 were responsible for another 239 jobs and $36.7 million in economic output.
Wilber Smith sent surveys to 300 businesses in the Lexington region. The 40-plus respondents indicated they spent an average $15,000 annually on airline travel for about 40 trips per year. More than half said their clients or vendors used general aviation travel to and from Lexington an average of one a month.
Nearly a quarter of respondents said their business would be negatively affected were Blue Grass Airport not available, mostly because of having to use more distant airports. Several companies reported they would scale back operations without the Lexington airport.
The report said no direct specific financial value could be assessed for airport contributions to local and regional quality of life by activity such as air ambulance service that prevents loss of life.
An assessment of Lexington socioeconomic trends in the report lists the top 10 Fayette County employers as follows.
Top 10 Fayette County employers 1. University of Kentucky – 12,096 2. Fayette County Public Schools – 5,300 3. Lexmark International Inc. – 3,130 4. Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government – 2,973 5. Central Baptist Hospital – 2,500 6. St. Joseph Hospital – 2,300 7. ACS, a Xerox Company – 2,050 8. Lockheed Martin – 1,750 9. Veterans Medical Center – 1,565 10. Walmart – 1,497
Source: THE LANE REPORT