According to a study by the Missouri Department of Transportation, Branson Airport created 1,460 jobs in the Branson area, with a total payroll of more than $35 million and had a total economic impact of more than $91 million in 2012.
“I was very surprised to see that kind of output by Branson Airport,” said MoDOT Aviation Operations Manager Bryan Gregory.
Gregory said the study, which was funded by a federal grant, was last conducted in 2002. Branson Airport opened in May 2009. Gregory said there are now nine commercial airports in the state of Missouri. By economic impact, Branson Airport essentially tied for fourth with Columbia Regional Airport, which had an economic impact just below Branson with $87 million, Gregory said.
Kansas City International Airport took the No. 1 spot followed by Lambert — St. Louis International Airport in second and Springfield-Branson National Airport took third.
“As one of the newest airports in Missouri, Branson Airport has quickly grown to provide a major economic impact to Branson and the surrounding area,” Gregory said.
The study, which Gregory said should be released online next week, notes the airport offers both commercial airline passenger service and general aviation services. Southwest Airlines and Frontier Airlines provide daily commercial passenger service to destinations across the nation.
Branson Airport Executive Director Jeff Bourk said the airport has conducted its own economic impact studies before and had found similar results.
“We are really happy to see an independent study by MoDOT of the aviation industry found the same results,” Bourk said.
The Statewide Airport Economic Impact Study observed, analyzed and reported the economic activity and impact of the state’s airport system following Federal Aviation Administration, or FAA, guidelines.
According to a release from the airport, the following types of economic impacts were quantified in the analysis: Direct impacts which are defined as benefits associated with businesses and activities located at or occurring on the airport; indirect impacts defined as the benefits associated with visitor spending for business and recreational activities in the local area and broader economy as a result of the airport use; and induced impacts defined as the benefits that result from the recirculation or re-spending of direct and indirect spending or payroll in the broader economy.
Bourk said at the airport alone, there are approximately 140 employees, ranging from Branson Airport employees to people who work in the Famous Dave’s restaurant in the airport, rental car company employees, FAA controllers and Transportation Security Administration.
“The rest comes from visitors coming to the area, eating at the restaurants and staying at hotels,” Bourk said.
While the study looked at 2012, Bourk expects a study this year could find the same results or likely better, as Southwest Airlines took over AirTran flights in March.
Bourk said Southwest has increased flights by 21 percent this year over what AirTran offered in 2012. Frontier has increased its flights, representing a 42 percent increase over its 2012 service.