December 27, 2012

An economic impact study for Ohio’s Columbus Regional Airport Authority (CRAA) indicates that the local economy gets a $6.6 billion boost annually from the three airports managed by the authority, and utilized by general aviation: Port Columbus (CMH), Rickenbacker (LCK) and Bolton Field (LZR). That figure is 69 percent higher than reported in the last such study, which was published in 2004.

“Airports are more than just airplanes and runways,” said Angie Tabor, manager of communications for CRAA. “They are vital economic drivers.” The six-month study, released last month, also showed that the three CRAA airports support more than 38,000 jobs with an annual payroll of $1.3 billion. Those figures are increases of 28 percent and 68 percent, respectively, over the 2004 study.

“It was just west of here that the Wright Brothers developed their first airplane,” said NBAA Midwest Regional Representative Bob Quinn. “It’s only appropriate that aviation in Ohio has grown like this, and we thank the CRAA for their excellent stewardship of these three airports that benefit the area by $6.6 billion a year.”

The fourth airport in the Columbus area, Ohio State University (OSU) Airport, was not included in the report because it is not managed by the CRAA. OSU is the second-busiest airport in the region, in terms of takeoffs and landings, but has no scheduled airline service.

The study was done by the CDM Smith Company of Cambridge, MA, and used FAA-approved methodology that considered direct on-airport impacts, direct visitor impacts and multiplier impacts generated by individuals and companies associated with airport businesses buying goods and services in the community. By adding select off-airport, non-aviation related businesses within Rickenbacker Inland Port with direct ties to the airport authority, total jobs generated increased to 54,172.

CRAA has clearly defined missions for its three airports. Port Columbus Airport (CMH) is primarily a passenger facility for both airlines and GA, taking nearly all airline flights to the Columbus area. Rickenbacker International Airport (LCK), a former Air Force base, is designated as a cargo airport and hosts regional sorting facilities for FedEx Air, FedEx Ground and United Parcel Service. In addition, it is a favorite destination for many businesses meeting with clients on the southeast side of the city. Smaller Bolton Field (TZR) is dedicated solely to GA flights, and is popular because of its short 15-minute trip to downtown.

“This study details what we have always known,” said Franklin County Board of Commissioner President Paula Brooks. “From generating new jobs for our residents to opening new opportunities for our businesses, the efforts at Port Columbus International Airport, Rickenbacker International Airport and Bolton Field are vital components of our region’s economic engine.”