Novemeber 22, 2013

A 2013 study of Colorado aviation shows residents reap about $10.5 billion in economic impact annually from the 75 state airports that handle mostly general aviation (GA) aircraft.

Denver International Airport (DIA), with an economic impact of about $26 billion, was considered separately in the study because it is a major airline hub. The value of aviation overall in Colorado was approximately $36.7 billion.

Study author ICF SH&E found the economic impact of those smaller GA and commercial service airports increased by about $7 million between 2008 and 2013, despite the poor economic climate. The study also found an additional $22 million in economic benefit from GA aircraft passengers that used DIA.

“Business aviation plays a critical role in Colorado’s economy,” said David Gordon, director of the Colorado Division of Aeronautics. “Look at Centennial Airport. It started with a small industrial park, but the developer knew a business-friendly airport was a critical part of the success, and there are now many corporate headquarters there because of the airport.”

Of the state’s 75 airports other than DIA, 14 also offer limited airline flights and one, Colorado Springs Municipal Airport (COS), has a robust military presence. Economic impact was estimated using jobs supported, annual payroll and total annual economic output.

Of the Colorado airports under consideration, the top five in terms of overall economic impact are:

  • Centennial – $1.3 billion
  • Aspen-Pitkin County Airport – $841 million
  • Eagle County Regional Airport – $635 million
  • Front Range – $460 million
  • Grand Junction Regional Airport – $380 million

The study showed that GA-only airports account for more than 12,000 jobs around the state. Looking at all airports, aviation employs more than 230,000 people in Colorado.

Separate from the economic impact study, the Colorado Aeronautics Division asked non-aviation businesses to take an online survey gauging their dependence on aviation. Thousands of companies responded, and although Project Manager Barb Fritsche cautioned that the opt-in nature of the online survey could skew results, officials found that more than half of responding businesses reported owning a GA aircraft and said they have customers or suppliers who fly on GA aircraft to Colorado to meet them.

“In Colorado, a few of the outlying communities are served by regional airlines, but business aviation remains the only fast, on-demand way for businesses to reach customers and potential customers throughout the state,” said Steve Hadley, NBAA’s director of regional programs and Southwest regional representative. “It’s not a surprise that GA’s economic value for Colorado’s citizens actually increased from 2008 to this year, despite the lingering effects of the recession.”

Review the 2013 Economic Impact Study of Colorado Airports.