By David Romero
ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Aviation is big business here in New Mexico, and now industry leaders want to make it even bigger.
During a roundtable session at the Albuquerque Sunport Wednesday employers discussed how they are looking at ways to use skilled, military veterans in addition to educating the workers of the future.
“I do believe with the schools like the SAMS Academy , the dedicated aviation academy out at Double Eagle Airport, along with our university system here that we can creatively grow and foster our young folks moving forward in aviation and aerospace careers,” said Bill McMillan of the New Mexico Aviation-Aerospace Association.
Right now there are nearly 49,000 aviation- and aerospace-related jobs in the state.
Those workers earn more than $1 billion a year combined.
Aviation leaders say that number could jump by another billion through more jobs.
Representatives from major airlines, the military and some Fortune 100 companies will look for ways to bring more aviation jobs to New Mexico in a roundtable discussion on Wednesday morning. The meeting will be from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the Sunport.
“I think we’re looking really well,” says Bill McMillan, President of the New Mexico Aviation/Aerospace Association. “I think we have a strong future for aviation and aerospace here in New Mexico.”
Right now there are nearly 49,000 aviation and aerospace-related jobs in the state. Those workers earn a combined $1.3-billion a year. Aviation leaders say that number could jump by more than a billion after bringing more jobs to the area. The industry itself pumps around $761-million into the state’s economy.
From pilots to mechanics and various other airport jobs, industry executives say with some of those skilled workers retiring, it’s not only vital to educate new workers to take their place, but add new jobs as well. A major source that employers want to tap into are skilled military veterans.
“They’re a perfect fit to come and work in the aviation world from those skill sets,” says Secretary Tim Hale from the New Mexico Department of Veteran Services. “Here in New Mexico we’ve got three main bases for the Air Force, Kirtland, Cannon Air Force Base and Holloman Air Force Base that are on the leading edge of future technologies for aviation.”
With 21 charter flight companies, 61 public-use airports and 8 flight schools operating in the state, they say New Mexico is the right place and this is the right time to bring in these new jobs.
“We can creatively grow and foster our young folks moving forward in aviation and aerospace careers,” adds McMillan.
The New Mexico Aviation Aerospace Association representatives say that Virgin Galactic is also expected to be on hand for the meeting to give an update on work at Spaceport America down in the southern part of the state.