Economic Impact of GA Tallied, Senate Gets GA Coalition
September 30, 2009
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  • Kathryn B. Creedy

    General aviation accounts for 1,265,000 jobs and a $150 billion contribution to the economy annually, according to a new tool calculating the benefits of the business and general aviation segments of the industry.

    While general and business aviation interests have long known the benefits for their respective segments of the aviation industry, Alliance for Aviation Across America (AAAA) has now put a dollar value on such benefits in a state-by-state survey of just how much general aviation means in each state. The new tool, posted on AAAA’s web site, shows California at the top at more than a $18 billion contribution while North Dakota is near the bottom at $94 million.

    The tool comes as general aviation and its airports are under increasing pressure from media for the toll they take on the federal tax dollar which, along with the beating the business aviation community took earlier this year prompted the creation on Monday of the Senate General Aviation Caucus which, according to its co chairs Mark Begich and Mike Johanns.

    The two efforts come on the heels of a plethora of campaigns from manufacturers to the National Business Aircraft Association/General Aviation Manufacturers AssociationNo Plane, No Gain to repair the image of the business and general aviation users. It also comes as NEXA Advisors, at the behest of NBAA and GAMA, published a new study confirming that organizations that use business aircraft are far more successful than those who do not. Related Story

    Ironically, all the criticism of the business/GA community flies in the face of reality as small businesses turn to general aviation to get where they need to go as airlines impose further capacity cuts, according to the Wall Street Journal.Some Frequent Travelers Prefer to Be in Cockpit

    The story was a refreshing departure from all the negative, stereotyped coverage that continues even now with USA Today criticizing the federal tax dollars going to airports. The Wall Street Journal echoed exactly what business and general aviation interests have been saying for a long time – users gain valuable time and increase productivity and are not the stereotypical fat cats but regular Janes and Joes who run corner markets or have to shuttle between businesses spread out over a region to which there is little or no airline service.

    AAAA notes in its study the Federal Aviation Administration tallies nearly 600,000 pilots on its rosters with most flying GA aircraft. Of course there is also the well known statistic that, with 5,261 public-use airports in the country, GA flies to 10 times more airports than do scheduled airlines. Then there are all those jobs, which, because of the economic meltdown and the withering criticism experienced earlier this year, have no doubt diminished since Merge Global Inc calculated the GA employment totaled 1.2 million jobs when they did their survey in 2005 at almost the peak of last up business cycle.

    AAAA also pointed the total national economic contribution was more than $150 billion annually. “Additional economic impact can be inferred from the 2200 charter flight companies, 4,144 repair stations, and 569 flight schools operating 4653 aircraft,” said the organization. “There are 3,330 fixed based operators, 18 ‘fractional’ ownership providers and 261,806 airframe and power plant specialists.”

    In addition, AAAA notes in its campaign that the GA mission varies greatly from the stereotype as well. “These public use airports are the only available option for fast, reliable, flexible air transportation to small and rural communities in every corner of the country, providing jobs, serving as a lifeline for small to mid-sized businesses, and providing critical services to remote cities and towns in time of natural disaster or crisis,” it said on its web site.

    Tallied over the last seven months, the study gathered information from each state and is largely aimed at helping local officials realize how much they gain from their local airports and of course it helps national leaders get the information they need to honestly support this critical aviation segment.

    And, that’s where the GA Caucus comes in. The organization will carry the industry’s message on such issues as balanced coverage of GA issues as well as funding for NextGen. Perhaps this will lend weight to aviation issues facing Congress and certainly is a good step. Even so, the lack of action on aviation matters such as NextGen largely indicates that aviation is a backwater that gets little traction on Capitol Hill. Related Story

    The goal of the Senate General Aviation Caucus is to work with pilots, aircraft owners, the aviation industry, and relevant government agencies to ensure a safe and vibrant environment exists for GA in our country,” said Begich and Johanns introductory letter.

    “GA has a presence in every state,” they said. “There are over 230,000 GA aircraft in the United States servicing nearly 19,000 small airports and regional hubs. Our home states [Nebraska and Alaska] in particular rely heavily on GA aircraft to keep geographically isolated communities connected to larger cities. This connection is integral to the economic development driving our nation.”

    The bottom line with all these campaigns is this: reporters cannot claim the information to provide balanced reporting is not out there and readily accessible. You listening USA Today?

    Date: 2009-09-30