December 1, 2011
By Susan Vaughn and John Basile
CAPE COD – Barnstable Municipal Airport has more of an economic influence on Cape Cod than just tourism, according to local officials and economic reports.
“It’s critically important for people in the non-tourism businesses,” said Wendy Norcross, chief executive officer of the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce. Businesspeople rely on the airport for shipping their products, for getting to business meetings and commuting to work off-Cape, she said. Some businesses will only locate in an area that has an airport, she added.
People who live here rely on the airlines to connect to Boston or New York airports and their customers all around the globe, Norcross said. She said people also don’t realize the impact of Cape Air, which is the largest regional commuter airline in the United States.
Cape Air has its world headquarters at Barnstable Municipal Airport, leases a hangar, does all of its pilot training there, has 850 employees, and carries thousands of passengers in and out of the airport, according to airport Manager Roland “Bud” Breault.
The airport overall has about 130,000 “plane operations” – planes taking off, landing or just touching down annually – and close to 250,000 passenger enplanements and departures, Breault said.
The planes also are used for basic services like delivering mail and newspapers to the Islands. Before the economic downturn, the planes brought many construction workers back and forth every day to Nantucket, Breault said.
A Massachusetts Economic Impact Study compiles data on the economic impact of public-use airports in the state. The primary aviation report showed that Barnstable Municipal Airport has 88,312 scheduled commuters annually who stay on the Cape a total of 741,821 days and spend $71.8 million annually here. General aviation people, those how own their own planes, bring in an additional 167,231 people who stay a total of 486,491 days and spend $28.4 million annually, according to the report.
The report also shows that the primary statewide economic impact of the airport itself includes a $20.4 million payroll for 1,155 employees and an output of nearly $83 million.
The airport construction, including a $19.4 million contract for the terminal and control tower, $3.8 million for new roads, and $1.7 million for a runway apron, also brought 211 jobs during the past year.
Restaurants and other businesses near the airport and beyond are likely to benefit from the visitors and employees. Other businesses connected with the airport – rental car agencies, taxi and bus services, vendors and artists who will show their work there will also get economic benefits from the airport. The airport itself adds to the town coffers by paying $500,000 a year for personnel and other services.
Former Town Councilman Henry Farnham, who served on the airport commission for eight years said the Town Council sees the airport’s finished product as “long overdue” and “a positive economic engine for the town.”
Part of the larger transit picture
The upgraded airport is part of a larger transportation picture, according to Tom Cahir, executive director of the Cape Cod Regional transit Authority.
Working with a multi-modal committee made up of people representing boat, bus, rail and air service providers, Cahir is working on a plan to move locals and visitors more smoothly.
“We’re trying to create a very efficient and reliable public transit system throughout all 15 towns on Cape Cod,” Cahir said. “We are looking for ways to collaborate between modes.”
He said with the resumption of commuter rail service to Cape Cod beginning next spring, the Cape will have another link to Boston’s South Station. “Our marketing strategy is to let people know that once they get here we have a very efficient fleet of buses to get them where they need to go in all 15 towns.
Cahir envisions a “seamless transfer” of passengers from airplanes to ground transportation for passengers coming through the upgraded airport and the reverse for people leaving Cape Cod or stopping here on their way to the Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard .
“The airport renovation and upgrade is a real boon to transportation,” Cahir said.
Source: THE REGISTER