People occasionally ask where Minnesota aviation funds come from and who actually benefits from their use. While the responses to those questions can go into long detail, here are the quick summary answers.
Who benefits from aviation?
The Minnesota aviation system provides benefits to all citizens in the form of timely, reliable, and safe delivery of goods, mail, perishables, high value items, and individual’s transportation, as well as fostering and aiding the economic growth and wellbeing of communities throughout the State.
On-airport aviation related businesses that provide direct services and products to the aviation public depend on adequate and safe airport facilities. Off-airport businesses use airport facilities for transportation of personnel, parts and equipment, and document courier service. They often do this by the use of their own business aircraft. They may also use local commercial air carriers, or charter passenger and freight operations facilities that provide just-in-time flights and services.
The communities benefit directly from having the airport as an economic engine and development tool. Many businesses seek out a community with an airport before deciding to locate in that community or area. These businesses bring jobs and economic growth to their communities, and flourish in part because of aviation.
Aviation also enhances the opportunity for increased tourism to communities, especially those communities that may not be on a major surface transportation line. But that community with an airport will bring not only enhance local tourism, but will also increase the numbers of new customers to local businesses.
The communities also benefit from having the airport as their “front-door.” It opens the way for expanded tourism, overnight mail and cargo services, expanded emergency and health services and capabilities, and opens access to the global marketplace! In fact aviation can be seen as, “… the real world wide web – a network of airlines, airports and air traffic control organizations that link the major cities and small communities of the world 24 hours a day with very advanced aircraft. Aviation provides some 56.6 million jobs worldwide and $2.2 trillion of global GDP,” according to a 2014 report by the Air Transport Action Group*.
But where does the money come from?
In Minnesota, the proceeds from the aviation fuel tax, aircraft registration, and aviation user fees are collected under Minnesota Statute 296.421 (MS 360.531 Aeronautics Aircraft registration) and are deposited into the State Airports Fund. The Fund is used in accordance with Minnesota Statute Chapter 360 exclusively for aviation purposes.
Expenditures are approved bi-annually by the Minnesota legislature. The fund is administered by the Minnesota Department of Transportation, office of Aeronautics, and distributed to several programs including construction and maintenance of infrastructure; navigational aids; safety and education programs; and weather programs for pilots.
The benefactors of the State Airports Funds are chiefly those people who use air transportation in any way. This includes citizens who travel for business and pleasure via commercial airlines, air charter, or GA aircraft. It includes aviators who are users of the airports, aviation facilities, attend safety seminars, and utilize safety and aviation information publications. But, it also includes every non-flying citizen of the community who benefits directly from the quality of life, products, services, and jobs brought to the community directly or indirectly because of aviation and the community’s airport!
In the words of independent strategy consultant and author, Jonathan McClory, “an expanding and advancing aviation industry yields benefits that are shared globally”. So the answer to the question of who benefits from a strong, healthy, and viable aviation system is quite simply, everyone!