Report: Aviation, aerospace bring $11.6 billion annually to Tulsa economy | Aerospace

One of Tulsa’s biggest marketing tools has just gained altitude.

Tulsa’s Tulsa International Airport and surrounding off-airport and aviation and aerospace businesses in the Tulsa Metropolitan Statistical Area generate an annual economic impact of $11.7 billion, a report shows.

“Nobody saw these numbers this big,” Tulsa Airports CEO Mark VanLoh said. “Nobody guessed it. So it’s fantastic. We’re going to shop it for all it’s worth.”

According to an Oklahoma Aviation & Aerospace Economic Impact Study released Monday, on- and off-airport activity in the Tulsa MSA also produce 58,917 jobs, $3 billion in annual payroll and $8.5 billion in annual spending.

Jones Riverside Airport has an annual economic impact of nearly $95 million.

“…You have the big boys here and all their suppliers want to be near them,” VanLoh said Tuesday before a news conference at Tulsa International Airport. “We’re saying we have all this property. We’re ready for you to come.

“And we’re starting to see some interest. We’re starting to see other companies looking at expanding that are already here. We just want to keep this going. If you’re going to be good at something, run with it. And we are good at aerospace.”

All told, aviation and aerospace businesses in the state generate $43.7 billion annually in economic activity, according to the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission report, making aviation and aerospace the second-largest economic engine in the state behind oil and gas.

Since 1994, the industry has grown by 250 percent, said Vic Bird, director of the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission. Of the $43.7 billion in economic activity, some $19.3 billion came from military aviation, according to the report.

“…When you talk about the history of aerospace and aviation in Tulsa, you think about people who are early pioneers in our city, who saw airplanes and thought that we should have one of the first airports anywhere in the world,” Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum said.

“…But that was the mindset that we had in Tulsa, recognizing the value of aerospace and aviation, investing in it and really building a whole industry here in our community around it. These numbers bear the wisdom of those pioneers out.”

The state has about 1,100 aerospace and aviation business-related companies, Fallin said. The average salary in aviation and aerospace is just over $73,000, according to the report.

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In a two-part look at Oklahoma’s public airports, including civilian and military, the study measured the total economic impact of each individual airport and then combined these individual airport impacts to determine the overall economic impact of the 109 airports in the Oklahoma Airport System and the state’s three Air Force bases: Altus, Tinker and Vance. The last comprehensive study of the state’s airport system was conducted in 1994.

To make the study possible, the aeronautics commission received a $245,000 system-planning grant from the Federal Aviation Administration. The agency was then able to match that amount with its own funds and received additional financial support from the Oklahoma City Airport Trust, Tulsa Airport Improvement Trust and the Tulsa Regional Chamber.

Tulsa International, which offers nonstop service to 17 cities, supports 18,369 direct jobs. In the Tulsa MSA, 286 businesses are related to aviation or aerospace. Tulsa is home to American Airlines’ largest maintenance facility, as well as NORDAM, a notable manufacturer of aviation equipment, and the Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology. Also, Oklahoma Air National Guard’s 138th Fighter Wing is based on the northeast corner of the airport.

With 15 capital improvement projects planned for fiscal years 2018-22, the Tulsa airport has plans to spend $86 million, according to the study.

Terminal building rehabilitation will upgrade the fire suppression system, reduce unscheduled maintenance on utilities by improving utility racks, replace aging escalators and replace the terminal’s roof. The terminal building rehabilitation will cost $11.5 million, with 85 percent of the funding from the airport’s collection of passenger facility charges.

Other projects include taxiway reconstruction and runway safety area improvement.

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