John Wayne Airport is a major financial contributor that accounts for 22,000 full- and part-time jobs and generates $2.8 billion in direct economic impact for four Southern California counties, according to a study released Wednesday.
When indirect impacts are included, 43,000 jobs and $6 billion in economic output can be attributed to John Wayne, the report said
“In Orange County, because of its embarrassment of riches, people don’t think of the airport as generating $6 billion of economic output,” said Steve Martin, senior vice president of consulting firm Intervistas, which conducted the study. “But lots and lots and lots of people are employed because of these air service activities.”
Martin said Orange County enjoys an extra boost that other similarly sized airports don’t get because of the number of tourists who visit.
The report estimated that 2.4 million visitors who spent $1.9 billion in the region flew through John Wayne in 2012.
“They come to Orange County to see Orange County and the attractions,” Martin said.
The average domestic visitor spent about $795 a trip while foreign travelers paid out about $717 a visit. Martin noted most of the airport’s international visitors are from Mexico who are more likely to stay with friends and family rather than in local hotels.
Even with airline industry consolidation, Martin thinks John Wayne is well-positioned to continue being a significant economic engine for the region, especially with the potential expansion of its Mexico air service.
“You came through the worst part of the recession in 2008 pretty well,” he said. “Traffic is up and things look good.”