As aviators, we know the value of airports, large and small. We need them to house, fuel, repair and maintain our aircraft, and we need them as destinations for our pleasure and business travel. However, all too often we hear from those who are not into aviation that airports are a nuisance and not worthy of support from the taxpayer. Words like: "If those rich people with their toys will not pay for the facilities, the taxpayer certainly should not be on the hook!" are often expressed by the not-in-my-backyards, including some government officials.
Of course, airports, even quite small ones, serve a valuable purpose for the communities they serve. They are an economic engine. They employ people, move goods and most importantly, help people connect with one another. But it is difficult to clearly determine the impact because the tentacles go out so far into the community. A job at the airport has several others off the airport that flow from that job. A person who lands at the airport for a meeting brings business into the community and so on. So, how do we "sell" the value of our airports?
COPA has financially participated in studies at Calgary and Nelson in order to determine the economic impact of airports for the communities they serve. In addition, Aviation Alberta and the Alberta Government performed a study of a number of airports in that province. We urge you to use these studies, or at least some of the numbers contained in them, whenever you have an opportunity to sell your airport. Ideally, the studies can be used as a blueprint for your community to perform a specific economic study for your airport.