Minnesota Flyer - Serving Midwest Aviation Since 1960

By Dan McDowell
MnDOT Aeronautics 

The Important Role of Your Community Airport


Courtesy of Gary Chambers, Aviation Photography/St.Louis, MO. 2018

An airport can be many things to many people. It can be a place of magnificent solitude, like during an early summer's morning, just as the sun rises and the stillness is punctuated only by the chirp of birds in the distance. Perhaps a very thin layer of fog will form over the field and in minutes dissipate as the air quickly warms. It is moments like this when there are few things in life more beautiful and tranquil than the silence of an airfield before the days' operations begin. Now is when your airport begins to show its real value to the community.

One of the first things people will notice about any airport is that it is a place that provides fast, intercity and interstate transportation. Some larger General Aviation airports can handle aircraft that provide intercontinental capabilities. Whatever the case, having that capability there for fast, on-demand transportation opens the front door to the community for new businesses to come in and start new factories, warehouses, and commercial stores. It also expands the opportunities for growing, or new trade, and commerce.

In the US, GA airports have become vitally important in the economic growth and prosperity of small to medium communities. Cities with airports that are well maintained and user-friendly bring in traffic that has a positive impact on the city, both directly and indirectly. For example, the airport is a great way to attract tourists to your city. Aviators tend to enjoy sharing good news with fellow aviators and non-aviators alike when they find a new location that is interesting, fun and enjoyable. Once the friends of aviators hear about a great experience in your city, the friends make plans to come and explore. Of course, they tell their friends, and just by word-of-mouth the level of tourism begins to grow.

But that's just one small facet of the value your airport brings to your community. Your airport also opens the door for conventions and conferences to choose your city for their venue. When they come, the attendees use local hotels, restaurants, and entertainment facilities. Area parks, recreation sites, and shopping will also be visited as your city demonstrates all it has to offer to the new visitors.

In an article titled, Airports as Engines of Economic Development: Great Airports Are Critical for a Region, by Cyrus Freidheim and B. Thomas Hansson, as published in Strategy-Business Magazine, authors Friedheim and Hansson said, "Airports are magnets for business and trade. Extensive and frequent air services are critical to attracting conventions and trade shows, and play a major role in the location of corporate and regional headquarters, service companies, research and development facilities and manufacturing sites." This, in turn, opens up new job opportunities throughout the region. That brings in new income and tax revenues for the cities, which can bring improvements in infrastructure and the overall quality of life for all the citizens.

When new businesses locate at or near the airport, or even in the local city, they will make regular purchases of food, fuel, supplies and more, all from local suppliers. The goods, gear, parts, and even services the company produces can then be quickly taken to the airport. There it will be put aboard an aircraft and rapidly flown to the customer or location where those things are needed. That ability to rapidly respond and meet customer needs (more than 150 miles away), can only happen when your community has a quality GA airport. When a plant has a manufacturing line down and needs a specialized part or technical assistance, only GA can truly speed the new part or technician to the site quickly and efficiently.

Also, by having and maintaining a quality airport in your community, you open the door for faster mail and package delivery, Aeromedical services, Law Enforcement, rapid response Disaster Relief, increased tourism, just-in-time services, and perhaps a flight training company and more. The point is that your airport can be the magnet that attracts organizations, companies and agencies to come to your city by choice, and quickly when needed.

It is because of your local airport that new opportunities for your city and region to expand commerce and trade throughout the state, nation and the world can be possible. Thus, with the increased economic activity and employment, local consumer's attitudes and behaviors change, and the standard of living for all people in your city and the local region increases.

Oh by the way, A study by Harris Interactive found that, "a large majority of business aircraft flights are made into airports with infrequent or no scheduled airline service." Perhaps now you understand the important role of your community airport.


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