Recognizing the need to maintain a modern, efficient, and safe airport system, the ITD Division of Aeronautics recently finalized the 2020 Idaho Airport System Plan (IASP) and Airport Economic Impact Analysis (AEIA) Updates. These studies are meaningful elements of the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) Division of Aeronautics’ overall program, and help the agency achieve its mission to “innovatively develop an adaptable, foresighted, and safe air transportation system promoting economic opportunity and opening gateways to adventures”.
These concurrent studies took an in-depth look at the 75 publicly owned, public-use airports that compose the state aviation system. The IASP Update evaluated the entire system’s ability to meet the needs of current and anticipated future aviation users over the 20-year period of 2017-2037. The 2020 AEIA Update calculated the economic impact of airports at individual airport and statewide levels. The study revealed that Idaho’s airports support 33,460 jobs generating $1.3 billion in earnings, contribute $2.4 billion to the state’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and generate $4.9 billion in total economic output. Three Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grants funded these important statewide studies.
The 2020 IASP and AEIA Updates were conducted because of economic, regulatory, and operational changes that have occurred nationally and in Idaho since the studies were last updated in 2010. Additionally, socioeconomic trends such as population growth and increased urbanization have changed demand for air service and travel patterns in the state. Updating the studies supports maintaining the system, monitoring performance over time, and continuing to validate investment in Idaho’s airport system.
Together, the 2020 IASP and AEIA Updates provide a long-term “flight plan” for the planning and development of Idaho’s airports while supporting continued investment into this critical transportation asset and driver of economic activity.
The 2020 IASP Update collectively assessed the conditions and needs of the public-use airports throughout the state and identified the system’s capability to meet current and future demands. This included examining current state and federal standards, policies, procedures, and trends to aid the ITD Division of Aeronautics in successfully developing and planning for the state’s airport system. To aid in this process, forecasts of aviation demand were developed and used to identify future system improvements needed to ensure that Idaho’s airport system provides adequate services to the state’s residents, businesses, and visitors.
The 2020 AEIA Update evaluated the economic impacts of on-airport activity and off-airport visitor spending, including the “multiplier” impacts generated by supplier sales and the re-spending of worker income. Economic impacts were calculated for individual airports as well as statewide. This information can be used to communicate the economic impacts of airports to policymakers, members of the public, and aviation stakeholder as well as validate continued investment into Idaho’s airport system.
The 2018 IASP Update built upon the goals established in the 2010 plan, including:
- Geographic Coverage
- Facility Support
- Transportation Support
- Safety & Security
- Economic Support
The 2020 IASP Update estimated that Idaho’s airports may need over $1.6 billion through 2037 to maintain its existing aviation assets, close the gap between the existing system performance and future targets, and ensure airports and the state have the capacity to meet the needs of all aviation users and activities over the next 20 years. This total investment need encompasses the costs of airport-specific projects identified during the study, 20-year lifecycle pavement costs, additional needs identified in the Idaho State Capital Improvement Program (ISCIP), and several other sources.
The 2020 IASP Update offered eight policy recommendations to provide the ITD Division of Aeronautics with the framework to meet current challenges and ever-changing conditions affecting the aviation system. These policy recommendations address regional air connectivity, emerging aviation technologies, airport management and operational issues, and the need to enhance outreach efforts to the public and policymakers.
The outcomes of the 2020 IASP Update and concurrent 2020 AEIA Update underline that the benefits of aviation are significantly greater than historical investment into the system. Not only do Idaho airports support over 33,000 Idaho jobs, contribute $1.3 billion in earnings, and generate $4.9 billion in economic impact, but aviation supports business and the quality of life, safety, security, and well-being of residents across the state. In general, aviation economic impact grows faster than investment into the system—meaning that investing in aviation is a smart and impactful use of taxpayer dollars.
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