Study: airport economic impact surging

By The Mercury

Staff reports

Economic impacts of Manhattan Regional Airport on the area have more than doubled since 2009, a study released by the city Friday has concluded.

The study was compiled for the city by CDM Smith, a Cambridge, Mass.-based consulting firm. It put the airport’s economic impact on the area this year at more than $46.3 million, more than twice the $22.88 million impact estimated in a 2009 study conducted for the Kansas Department of Transportation.

The Smith study found that payroll impact, which it put at $23.394 million, and jobs impact, which it put at 489, have also more than doubled in the past three years. The 2009 KDOT study put payroll impact at $6.483 million and jobs impact at 233.

While citing several factors as contributing to the sharp increase, the study found that most of the impact was due to substantial increases in the number of visitors arriving by air. It noted that emplanements rose from 15,600 in 2009 to an estimated 67,000 by year’s end, crediting that for bringing substantially more visitors to the region. It credited those visitors with spending an estimated $14.4 million, more than triple the $3.3 million estimated to have been spent by commercial air service visitors in 2009.

The report released by the city Friday did not appear to have attempted to estimate how many of the additional 50,000-plus visitors would have arrived to the area via other airports in 2009, nor did it attempt to quantify how much those area visitors would have spent here.

The study found that commercial service visitors generated more than $23.5 million in economic output, with on-airport economic output exceeding $14.3 million.

The study was made public as city commissioners consider an airport proposal for a substantial expansion of the footprint for the airport terminal, a proposal envisioned to include new gates, passenger space, associated commercial space, parking and amenities. In June, commissioners approved a design contract for the expanded facility, and in September they approved funding for the first phase of the project, an upgrade of the apron area.

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