A study initiated by the Missouri Department of Transportation found that the Springfield-Branson National Airport has made significant economic contributions to the region, with an overall annual impact of more than $402 million.
According to an airport news release, the statewide economic impact study determined the benefits of all Missouri’s airports by observing, analyzing and reporting the economic activity and impact of the state’s airport system for 2012, following Federal Aviation Administration’s guidelines.
The annual total economic output of the Springfield airport is $402,017,000 and accounts for 2.48 percent of the Springfield metro’s total economic output, the release said.
“I knew the airport had a big impact on the area, but the numbers surprised me,” said Brian Weiler, the airport’s director, according to the release. “I suspect it will surprise a lot of people. We’re sort of hidden in the northwest part of the city, out of sight and out of mind.”
The study concluded that Missouri’s 108 airports generated $11.1 billion in economic output in 2012, or 4.3 percent of the state’s $258 billion gross state product in 2012, according to the release.
“In addition to airports’ status as a substantial job and payroll contributor, we found communities large and small rely on Missouri airports to spur economic growth and increase access to regional and worldwide markets,” said Dave Nichols, director of the Missouri Department of Transportation.
The Springfield airport’s total economic output numbers include 4,454 total jobs, with a payroll of $154,280,000, the release said.
“The Springfield airport is, in a very real sense, an economic hub,” Weiler said. “The list of companies doing business here is long. It includes airlines, restaurants, gift stores, air cargo companies, corporations that own their own planes, plus city and federal employees.”
The biggest economic generators at the airport are the online travel company Expedia and the Missouri National Guard’s aviation repair depot, the release said. The Guard employs approximately 358 people at the airport. Expedia has nearly 1,000 employees at its airport offices located in the retired airport terminal building.
Kent Boyd, the airport’s marketing manager, said in the release that the importance of international air traffic is impossible to overstate.
“We no longer live in a world dominated by North America’s economy,” Boyd said. “U. S. domestic air travel, as a percentage of world air travel, is rapidly declining. For the Springfield area to be a player in the world economy, it must have easy access to international destinations — particularly to Asia, the Middle East and Western Europe.”