By: Priyanka Dayal December 21, 2011 WORCESTER – State officials released a study yesterday saying that Worcester Regional Airport is a boon to the local economy, even though the airport has struggled for years and offers charter service through just one carrier. The study released by the Department of Transportation said the airport supports 418 jobs and has an annual economic benefit to the tune of $51.4 million. Economic impact was measured in several ways, including the money visitors to Worcester spend at local businesses. The study also looked at businesses at the airport, such as flight schools and aircraft maintenance companies. “The Worcester Regional Airport is an expanding economic engine for the area with increased commercial air traffic, creating jobs directly while making many more jobs possible in the private sector,” DOT Secretary and Chief Executive Officer Richard A. Davey said in a news release. The study found that overall the state’s 39 airports combined support more than 124,000 jobs and generate $11.9 billion in economic output annually. Most of the economic activity is generated by Boston’s Logan International Airport. At Worcester Regional Airport, the total payroll was nearly $14 million last year. The 418 jobs that the airport supports includes jobs at the airport and jobs that are “subsisting off the airport’s existence,” said Michael Verseckes, a spokesman for the DOT. The airport’s annual operating budget is about $4 million, Mr. Verseckes said. Direct Air, a charter service, is the only passenger airline to serve the airport. It offers flights from Worcester to three Florida destinations and to Myrtle Beach, S.C. The airline recently canceled flights that were planned to go to the Bahamas and Puerto Rico this winter. “Worcester Regional Airport has seen increased commercial passenger service in the last three years and we expect general aviation and corporate aviation to grow in the future,” Airport Director Andrew Davis said in the news release. The Massachusetts Port Authority has operated the Worcester airport for the past decade. The city owned the airport until selling it to Massport last year. The DOT study also looked at general aviation airports, including those in Fitchburg, Gardner, Marlboro, Southbridge, Spencer and Sterling. Together, those airports generate $18.1 million in economic activity. The study was funded by the Federal Aviation Administration.
Source: NEWS TELEGRAM