And the Survey Says: Do Airports Waste Economic Impact Data?

By Scott Spangler on July 2nd, 2009

APA-Logo For reasons unimportant here, I look at a lot of airport websites because they are a primary communication channel for anyone who uses or is interested in learning more about them. So I’m on the Airport Information page of the Centennial Airport website the other day, and a large subhead — 2008 Economic Impact Study — catches my eye.

Hmm. There’s a link I don’t ever remember seeing on another airport’s website. After clicking on — and gleefully reading — the treasure chests of information, I wondered if Colorado was the only state that conducted such surveys. Nope. A Google search revealed that most state aeronautic departments regularly conduct airport economic surveys.

So why don’t more airports make use of this information? Or, am I just missing it because it’s buried somewhere in an airport’s website?

APA-40thposterLooking for some insight, I called Robert Olislagers, the executive director of Centennial Airport. He could only speak about the Colorado survey, and he heaped praise on state aeronautics director Travis Vallin, who started the comprehensive pentennial statewide survey of commercial and GA airports in 2003.  They “provide great benchmarks for the airports, not only collectively as a system, but individually as part of the impact they may have on specific communities,” Olislagers said.

Surveys are like computers: garbage in, garbage out. The more businesses that complete and return the surveys, the better the resulting data. Olislagers apparently knows this because Centennial encourages them to participate with drawings for limited edition lithographs of the poster that celebrated the airport’s 40th anniversary in 2008. In 2003 it was limited-edition prints of the Wright’s early flights.

JYO It’s clear that airport managers have this information. In talking to Tim Deke, manager of Virginia’s Leesburg Executive Airport, about another subject, he supported it with data from the 2004 state airport economic impact survey. He said he couldn’t wait for the results of the latest survey, due in September, because Leesburg, a busy nontowered airport just outside Washington, DC, has grown so much.

So, again I wonder, why isn’t this information prominently available on an airport’s website? No matter how many people are doing outreach for an airport, one or a dozen, they have to sleep sometime. Websites don’t. Like faithful bloodhounds of information they are waiting patiently for the curious to notice them.

So let’s be like Centennial Airport and get with the proactive communication program. Visit the website of the airport near you and look for some link to its economic impact information. If you can’t find it, Google [your state’s name] + “airport economic impact” and see what pops up. If the state’s survey information is worthwhile (and it probably will be), copy the link and send it to the airport manager and webmaster to make this valuable information clearly available to all who visit the airport’s website. The future of aviation will thank you for years to come. —Scott Spangler

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One Response to “And the Survey Says: Do Airports Waste Economic Impact Data?”

  1. Madeleine Monaco Says:

    We at PWK (Chicago Executive Airport) have used that data to lobby – mostly unsuccessfully – for piston aircraft needs and improvements over the tears. Dont think its posted on the airports website either.

    Madeleine Monaco
    PAPA (formerly Palwauke Airport PIlots Assoc) at Chicago Executive

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