Airports Stimulate Employment and Economic Growth - 11/04/2006

– A recent survey by Airports Council International confirms the growing economic impact of airports as catalysts for economic growth and employment. Robert J Aaronson, Director General of ACI says: “A surge in passenger traffic and cargo volumes over the past two years created a substantial number of new jobs. Our ACI Economics Survey for 2005 confirmed that 4,500,000 persons were employed on airport sites worldwide.” The data are summarized in the table below.

Referring to these statistics, Paul Behnke, Director of Economics at ACI observes, “The conventional wisdom that every 1 million passengers directly creates about 1,000 jobs has proven valid over the past decade. But when we add in the indirect and induced job creation through stimulation of the greater trade, travel and tourism sector, we approach 4,000 jobs created for every million passengers.”

This figure is confirmed by the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG). In measuring the economic impact of the entire air transport section, a 2005 ATAG study calculated that the sector generates nearly 16 billion jobs worldwide, including almost 7 billion in the travel and tourism sector. In addition the ATAG study estimated the total impact of the air transport sector on global Gross Domestic Product at nearly US$ 3 trillion.

In order to maintain momentum as economic catalysts, airports will need to build new capacity to meet the expected doubling of passenger and cargo traffic over the next 12 to 15 years. According to Aaronson, “Governments have been slow to grasp the fact that we already have a capacity crisis at many hubs in Europe, North America and Asia. ACI and its members recognize that air transport growth is reliant on balanced, environmentally responsible actions. However, regulatory and political obstacles to building new capacity must be removed if we are to avoid severe congestion which would restrict global economic prosperity by artificially suppressing trade, investment and tourism flows.”

“Indeed, airport operators need a fast-track approval process for new projects. The financing is available because airports are good investments. It is political will to clear the way for airport expansion that too often is lacking. Independent research at Birmingham, Amsterdam and Frankfurt has confirmed that a failure to build new capacity would have a severe negative impact on the economies of the respective regions,” concludes Aaronson.


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