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ACI-NA releases U.S. Airports economic impact report

Airports Council International – North America (ACI<.>-NA) President David Z. Plavin released a report on the…

Airports Council International – North America (ACI<.>-NA) President David Z. Plavin released a report on the Economic Impact of U.S. Airports. The report, based on information collected from ACI-NA member airports in 2001, includes economic statistics and specific growth areas within the United States’ aviation system, and highlights our pressing need to address the looming congestion levels.

According to the report, more than 1.9 million passengers each day rely on U.S. airports for business and leisure travel, and more than 38,000 tons of cargo pass through U.S. airports each day. The nation’s airports generate $507 billion each year in total economic activity nationwide, producing approximately 1.9 million jobs on airports in the U.S. and 4.8 million jobs in local communities.

Detailing the growth in airport activity, the report notes that total scheduled U.S. commercial air carrier activity has steadily increased over the years at rates higher than the U.S. economy. In addition, U.S. domestic passenger traffic increased at a faster rate than international traffic from 1995 to 2001; however, from 2003 international passenger traffic is expected to grow at an annual rate of 5.6% compared to a 3.8% growth rate for the domestic traffic. The U.S. cargo market has grown significantly in the past ten years and is expected to grow at 5.3% per year over the next 12 years.

These statistics are overwhelming, but not surprising, and they are a testament to the need for the aviation industry to adopt measures now to efficiently increase capacity and to better use the capacity we currently have in the system, said Plavin. The picture coming into view now is that as our passengers deal with increased levels of security and terminal delays, on the horizon they should also expect more airside congestion. Therefore, it’s imperative that airports be provided with appropriate Airport Improvement Program (AIP) levels to fund airport investments, and be granted flexibility to choose which funding mechanisms work best for their local needs. America’s economic future depends on it, our traffic levels require it, and our passengers deserve it, he added.

The report also notes that this year has been one of radical change in the air transportation system. As airports continue to recover from the aftermath of September 11 and grapple with the impacts of the airline industry restructuring, airports are showing growth in all areas of activity including passenger and cargo. Airports are consequently providing capital development programs to accommodate this growth. While traffic levels have dipped this year largely due to the September 11 tragic events, U.S. airports have experienced a robust 3.7% growth in economic activity since the last report was published in 1998, and enplaned passengers at our 419 primary airports rose from 631 million to 695 million per year, reflecting a 10% growth since 1998. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) projections are that the volume of passenger traffic will return to 2000 levels by 2003 or 2004.

Case studies of 12 airports detailing data on passengers, cargo, operations and capital development programs in the report include Baltimore/Washington International, Blue Grass (Lexington), Hartsfield Atlanta International, Kansas City International, Minneapolis-St. Paul International, Nashville International, Oakland International, Philadelphia International, Rickenbacker International, Savannah International, Seattle-Tacoma International, and Southwest Florida International airports.

ACI-NA represents local, regional and state governing bodies that own and operate commercial airports in the United States and Canada. ACI-NA member airports enplane more than 98 percent of the domestic and virtually all the international airline passenger and cargo traffic in North America. Over 370 aviation-related businesses are also members of the association, which is the largest of the six worldwide regions of Airports Council International.

Theodore Koumelis
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Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.