A popular saying amongst local government officials when referring to their general aviation airport is “this is the most valuable mile of pavement we have in the county.” The Texas Aviation Economic Impact Study, which was released in 2018, proved that statement to be true. The study was prepared for the Texas Department of Transportation’s (TxDOT) Aviation Division by CDM Smith, with assistance from KSA Engineers, in conjunction with Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI).
Texas has one of the largest state airport systems in the country. With 289 airports, Texas has grown and maintained the system to provide a myriad of aviation and economic benefits to the Lone Star State and its residents. With its expansive open spaces, large metropolitan areas, welcoming attractions and flourishing business environment, it’s no wonder that Texas has more registered aircraft than any other state. These nearly 25,400 aircraft account for 9% of all U.S. registered aircraft. For many communities, air transportation is essential for attracting and retaining commerce, and the local airport is the valued asset that provides the link to the national air transportation system and the world economy.
“TxDOT’s Aviation Division commissioned the study to measure the economic benefits provided by the state’s airport system,” says TTI Research Scientist Jeff Borowiec. “The statewide economic impact study shows how Texas airports serve as important economic engines. While the focus of this study is general aviation airports, the impact from commercial service airports was also calculated to present a complete picture of the tremendous benefit created by Texas’s airport system.”
The economic impacts of these airports take into account a wide variety of aviation services. At the commercial airports, airlines move large volumes of people and cargo through the system with a remarkable safety record. The general aviation airports offer unmatched accessibility across Texas while providing a host of services, such as air medical, avionics installation, flight training, environmental surveys, aerial application, charter flights and aircraft maintenance. All of these activities support jobs in the community and bolster each region’s economy.
“A commitment to invest over $70 million annually by the Aviation Division has fostered this airport development and resulted in benefits for all Texans,” says TxDOT Aviation Division Director of Planning and Programming Greg Miller. “This means more than simply convenient transportation options via general aviation aircraft. The network of airports across the state provides many economic and qualitative benefits.” (see “Texas Airports…By the Numbers” sidebar below)
Texas’s general aviation airports are also critical to the state’s tourism industry. Visitors to the state make frequent use of general aviation airports to enjoy the varied recreational activities – ranging from national and state parks, to major league sporting events, to hunting and fishing opportunities, to world-class resort destinations. During these trips, visitors spend money locally on food, lodging, events and various other items.
“The study found aviation benefits have grown significantly since the last study in 2012,” says Borowiec. “This study demonstrates the value that airports in both small and large communities have. The numbers clearly show the positive economic impact they have, along with providing critical services such as air ambulance and rapid response to wildfires.”
TEXAS AIRPORTS…By the Numbers
- $94B Annual Economic Output—The economic impact of Texas’s system airports is estimated at 778,955 jobs, $30.1 billion in payroll, and $94.3 billion in economic output.
- 80M Passengers Enplaned—Texas’s commercial service airports enplane more than 80 million passengers annually.
- 5.7M General Aviation Operations—Texas’s airports handle 5.7 million general aviation operations annually.
- 1.9M Commercial Airline Operations—More than 1.9 million commercial airline operations take place annually at Texas airports.
- 42 Air Traffic Control Towers—There are 42 air traffic control towers operating at Texas system airports, staffed either by FAA employees or private contractors.
- 4th Busiest Airport in the World—Dallas-Fort Worth International is the fourth busiest airport in the world in terms of aircraft operations.
- 25,391 Registered Aircraft in Texas—There are 25,391 registered aircraft in Texas which makes up 9 percent of all U.S. registered aircraft.
- 289 System Facilities in Texas—The Texas airport system consists of 289 airports and heliports. Of these, 210 airports are part of the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems (NPIAS) and are eligible to receive federal funding.