By Keith Roysdon
MUNCIE — The Delaware County Airport has a substantial impact on the local economy, a new study reports.
The Aviation Association of Indiana and Conexus Indiana released their 2012 Indiana Airports Economic Impact study on Tuesday, and said that the Delaware County Airport “contributes $147,323,325 in economic output and creates and sustains 882 jobs with a payroll of $46 million in the Muncie area.”
Statewide, airports have an economic impact of $14 billion, said the two organizations, which note that they support Indiana’s airports and the idea of “leveraging their impact on Indiana’s economy.”
The Delaware County Airport receives public and private funding but operates at an annual cost far less than the amount of economicimpact cited in the study: The airport’s annual budget is just $650,000.
That budget is made up of property taxes as well as modest amounts contributed annually by city and county government and the airport authority for the airport’s FAA control tower operations.
The local airport will oversee 25,000 flights this year, executive director Steve Leach said. That includes takeoffs and landings and aircraft that move through the Delaware County Airport’s air space and have communications with its tower.
Leach and his small staff don’t do it alone. “One of the key parts of this whole thing is Muncie Aviation,” he said. “They’re one of the big reasons why this airport is still here.”
Muncie Aviation, an aircraft dealer, is the fixed base operator for the Delaware County Airport, supplying airplane fuel and repairs for the aircraft using the airport.
Leach said he was glad to see the economic impact report released.
“A lot of people don’t realize how important general aviation is,” he said. “When they think of airports they think of Indianapolis or Fort Wayne or South Bend. But general aviation is the lifeblood of hundreds of companies that need to get in and out of smaller areas, and those companies create and support jobs.”
The Delaware County Airport’s impact also includes its uses for agricultural operations, flight training at Muncie Aviation and medicalemergency air transport.
The study further noted, “Indiana airports serve the transportation needs of more than 6.5 million Hoosiers. Indiana airports account for a total payroll of $4.1 billion.
Of the total 69,149 jobs, approximately 30 percent exist at Indianapolis International Airport, another 23 percent exist at Indiana’s other three commercial airports, and the remaining 47 percent exist at Indiana’s 65 general aviation airports.”