The economic impact of Georgia’s airports increased by more than 18% over nearly a decade, data shows.
Travis Vallin, the vice president of aviation construction planning firm Jviation, presented the data Wednesday to the General Assembly’s Joint Study Committee on Airport Infrastructure & Improvements.
Data collected before the COVID-19 pandemic shows the economic benefits from Georgia’s 103 airports have increased from $62.6 billion in 2011 to $73.7 billion in 2020.
In addition to the country’s busiest airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Georgia has seven other commercial airports and 75 smaller general aviation airports.
As of 2020, aviation supports 13% of Georgia’s workforce and 15% of the state’s gross state product, a report prepared for the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) showed. The report said from 2011 to 2020, income from the airports jumped from $4.4 billion a year to $6.9 billion a year. Most of the income came from payroll, with airport-related jobs increasing by 83%.
A majority of the payroll income came from businesses that occupy space at Georgia’s airports.
“Airports are job creators,” Vallin said.
There are currently 580 tenants at the state’s airports, data showed. The report showed the tenants account for 81% of the 67,620 jobs from the airports Jviation studied, accruing $4.8 billion in economic activity.
The airports also supported more than $1.3 billion in local and state tax revenue. Visitors who came through the smaller airports spent $54 to $192 per trip, Jviation’s survey of 8,200 passengers found. The average commercial visitor spent $440 per trip.
While Georgia’s airports help prop the state’s economy, they need more funding, GDOT’s Intermodal Division Director Carol Comer told lawmakers.
State airport aid has increased over the past decade. It grew from $1.7 million in fiscal year 2011 to $17 million in fiscal year 2021. Federal assistance has remained between $50 million to $60 million from 2011 through 2020.