Aviation activity at Scottsdale Airport, one of the busiest corporate jet facilities in the state, generated $536 million in total economic benefits and more than 3,400 jobs for the region last year, according to a recent study.
The economic impact study, conducted by Lee McPheters, director of the JP Morgan Chase Economic Center at Arizona State University, measured the revenue and sales of 61 businesses and government agencies at the airport, firms in the Scottsdale Airpark and visitor spending on lodging, food, retail, entertainment and auto rentals.
Airport services generated $134 million in revenue and created 588 jobs in fields such as aircraft maintenance, aviation sales, pilot training and airport administration.
The Scottsdale Airpark, a major employment center that is home to manufacturing, retail, financial and aviation-related businesses, separately generated more than $150 million in revenue and created 818 airport jobs among its 2,900 companies.
As airport-related funds re-circulated through the city’s economy, an additional $208 million in secondary revenue was generated.
McPheters said in an e-mail that as the economy recovers from the recession, more businesses are flying staff and executives to meetings and events.
Because the Scottsdale Airport is home to and attracts many business jets, their maintenance and utilization are the main drivers behind the airport’s economic impact, but the visitors arriving on those planes contribute as well, McPheters said.
“So, there is a mix of business and tourist activity that creates demand and supply of private aircraft flights and visitors spending in the greater Scottsdale area,” he said.
On an average day, Scottsdale gets 366 visitors by plane, half of whom stay on the airport property for a day or less. Their spending injects more than $120,000 into the economy each day.
According to Scottsdale’s Visitor Statistics Report, compiled by the city, the average spending per person per day for hotel visitors is an estimated $230.
Airport visitors spend the most on lodging, and their average overall spending each year is more than $44 million, with 447 hospitality jobs supported, according to the impact study.
Megan Doyle, community-affairs manager at the Scottsdale Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the growth of Kierland Commons and Scottsdale Quarter in the Airpark area has added tremendous value to the community, along with the airport, which attracts tourists in from all over the world.
“It’s unbelievable the amount of traffic (the airport has), and it brings visitors in,” she said. “I’m excited to see it continue to grow and support the tourism industry in Scottsdale.”
In conjunction with the economic-benefit study, the airport is updating its master plan, which serves as a guideline for growth and development over the next 20 years. Total economic benefits by 2032 are expected to total more than $700 million annually.
Sarah Ferrara, planning and outreach coordinator at the airport, said the airport’s master plan hasn’t been updated since 1997.
“The master plan for us was a huge endeavor,” she said. “We’ve done extensive research into what we have now and what we are going to have in the next five, ten and twenty years.”
Ferrara said the airport doesn’t anticipate changing its infrastructure but had to look ahead at what is coming.
“People with corporate jets want to come to Scottsdale, and our airport kind of caters to that,” she said. “We’re looking at housing executive type jets while servicing some of our smaller aircraft owners as well.”
Since 2012, airport officials have met with the airport planning advisory committee, real-estate agents, brokers and aviation professionals to put together the master plan.
The plan, which is funded by grants from the FAA, the Arizona Department of Transportation and a local grant match by Scottsdale’s Aviation Department’s enterprise fund, will be presented to the Scottsdale City Council later this spring.