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Nov. 25, 2015
Chandler Municipal Airport is a robust economic engine

By Councilmember Nora Ellen

Last year, the City Council commissioned a study to determine the impact of one of our community’s greatest assets – Chandler Municipal Airport. The effort was led by the national design and consulting firm of Kimley-Horn, in partnership with one of Arizona State University’s top research economists, Dr. Lee McPheters.

The task was an arduous one, using surveys, economic data, estimations of the impacts of those who visit Chandler using the airport, and a review of the airport’s supporting services and activities. I will get to some of the interesting results in a moment, but the one that jumps off the page for me is the total economic output of the airport of nearly $300,000 each and every day. That is an incredible number.

So, how did we get to that figure? Using methodology approved by the Federal Aviation Administration, the study took into account revenues, payroll and employment from those who work at on-airport businesses and public agencies, airport capital improvements and visitor spending.

There are 163 jobs on the airport with an annual payroll of just under $7 million. Businesses generate about $32.5 million in annual revenues. Visitor spending via the airport generates an additional $34 million in revenues and a little more than $9 million in payroll. All of that combined then creates additional “indirect” -- or secondary – impacts that jump the total revenues to $109 million and create just under 800 jobs.

It was interesting to see some of the data related to airport visitors. We have about 36,700 people visit Chandler each year who stay at least one night. We also have about 26,500 day visitors to the airport each year. With lodging, food, drink, shopping, entertainment and transportation, the revenues add up in a hurry. It was also interesting to see that many of our visitors are from Southern California, Nevada and Utah.

Chandler Municipal is an exceptional airport for business and pleasure. It is used primarily for charter flights, transport and sightseeing excursions. It also is home to a number of world-class training institutions. It is among the nation’s busiest general aviation airports, with about 200,000 operations annually. It is located within an area we call the Chandler Airpark Area, a nine-square-mile, master-planned business park in and around Chandler Municipal Airport.

This emerging employment center will one day be home to tens of thousands of jobs. The study did not include the entire airpark area, just businesses and institutions on the airport. However, we will next look at how the airport will develop over time and how best to determine future uses of the remaining land. This is a critical area for the entire community, and as you can see, a tremendous economic engine for our long-term fiscal health.

It’s an exciting future, and this study only confirms what a rare jewel this asset is to our City.