Dotting nearly every region of the state, public-use airports generated more than $16.5 billion in 2013, according to a recent state study that analyzed annual economic activity in Massachusetts.
“The Statewide Airport Economic Impact Study demonstrates the value that airports add to the Commonwealth by bringing in money, creating jobs, and providing additional travel options throughout Massachusetts,” MassDOT Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack said in a statement. “This study is a key component in illustrating how investments in our airports from every region of our state positively impact our economic development.”
Statewide, 39 public-use airports support 162,256 jobs and a combined payroll of more than $6 billion. The total includes nine commercial airports and 30 general aviation airports. General aviation includes all flying that isn’t conducted by scheduled passenger airlines.
The Norwood Memorial Airport provides 394 jobs, with a payroll of $16.9 million. The airport’s overall economic impact, which includes on-airport business, construction, visitor and indirect impacts, was $52.2 million.
Norwood Airport Manager Russ Maguire said a driving factor for this is the airport’s location.
“I attribute a lot of it to the fact that we’re in the Metro area. You have a lot of people going into Boston by way of Norwood,” Maguire said. “We also support so much business aviation at the airport. There are a lot of businesses, including colleges in and around Boston, that the airport supports. It’s more than just Gillette and Fenway.”
The Norwood Memorial Airport had more than 9,000 visitors in 2013, the highest total of the 30 general aviation airports in Massachusetts. This total increases the airport’s indirect impacts, the funds spent locally by on-airport businesses, such as the recirculation of employee payroll within the community at various shops and restaurants. This multiplier impact makes up $21.2 million of Norwood’s $52.2 million figure.
“(The airport) is probably as important as the trains and highways. It’s moving people and goods,” Maguire said. “You see the numbers, the number of people employed here and the number of people who come here. Just what it does for the service industry, like hotels and restaurants, is significant.”
Logan International Airport in Boston, which employs nearly 132,000 and generates more than $13.3 billion in economic output, accounts for the majority of the overall economic impact of airports in Massachusetts, but it’s not alone. Even non-commercial general aviation airports can generate millions in economic activity.
Beverly Municipal Airport and Plymouth Municipal Airport, for example, generate $32.5 million and $47.8 million in economic output, respectively.
The four military air bases in Massachusetts employ 18,187 and account for more than $1.7 billion in economic output.
The nine commercial service airports, including Logan, have a combined economic impact of more than $16 billion. The 30 general aviation airports in Massachusetts combine to create $516 million in economic impacts.
An increase in recent years in the number of commercial airlines offering direct flights into Boston has been very positive for the travel-based economy, said Richard Doucette, executive director of the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism.
“Massport and Logan have been getting all these new direct flights from all over the world,” Doucette said. “Anytime people can fly a direct flight, it eliminates a pain in the neck.”
Smaller airports also benefit as a result, Doucette said, as some travelers may opt to fly out of Logan to reach other destinations in Massachusetts.
“A lot of people fly to the Cape and Islands,” he said. “There are a ton of small regional airports that cater to people who fly themselves privately.”
Nantucket Memorial Airport employs 3,208 and has an annual economic output of $378.5 million. Martha’s Vineyard Airport has 1,232 employees and pumps $120 million into the economy.
“It is made clear in the Statewide Airport Economic Impact Study that the 39 public-use airports bring tremendous value to the economic profile of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,” MassDOT Aeronautics Administrator Christopher Willenborg said in a statement. “It is important to highlight that aviation is a strong economic catalyst in the state, sustaining over 162,000 direct and indirect jobs.”