Measuring and Understanding the Relationship Between Air Service and Regional Economic Development

Airports and their communities recognize the importance of air service for economic development. This recognition is prompting research to develop measures to understand the relationship between the two and maximize an airport’s contribution to its region’s economic development strategies. Research undertaken for ACRP Report 132: The Role of U.S. Airports in the National Economy examined how air service improvements between regions and selected international markets could benefit the U.S. economy.  The report established a statistical relationship between the national aviation system and the overall economy. Research is needed to extend this research to more clearly define the influence of air service changes on regional economic development and explore the extent to which changes in air service affect productivity in differing industry sectors. This research will enable analysis of the regional economic impacts of air service and provide guidance for communicating results to stakeholders. The objective of this research is to develop a guidebook and tools (e.g., flowcharts, decision trees, narrative templates, spreadsheets) to help airports and their communities understand, measure, and address the relationship between air service and economic development. The guidebook should include the following: (1) Primer describing air service trends and general relationships between air service and regional economic development; (2) Overview of data collection sources and methods; (3) Guidance for selecting and using the tools to meet user requirements, including: (4) Selecting appropriate economic metrics (e.g., gross domestic product, job creation and talent retention, payroll, capital investment, foreign direct investment, tax base, per capita income); and (5) Selecting appropriate air service metrics (e.g., up-gauging, seats, frequency, routes, total travel time, airfares, cargo volume and value); (6) Methods for communicating results to stakeholders; (7) Case studies representing an array of common community sizes, airport activity levels, and air service characteristics for both passenger and cargo service; (8) Glossary of terms; and (9) Listing of additional research and guidance on economic and air service development. The tools should be designed to allow airports and communities to do the following: (1) Use a variety of metrics to measure how economic and air service changes could impact their community based on their unique air service and community characteristics; (2) Identify which economic sectors (e.g., manufacturing, tourism) are most impacted by air service changes; and (3) Consider qualitative impacts (e.g., quality of life, image enhancement, competitiveness).


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Funding: $500000
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 03-58

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Airport Cooperative Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC    20001

    Federal Aviation Administration

    800 Independence Avenue, SW
    Washington, DC  United States  20591
  • Performing Organizations:


    Washington, DC  United States 
  • Principal Investigators:

    Martin, Steve

  • Start Date: 20200518
  • Expected Completion Date: 20220222
  • Actual Completion Date: 0

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01713677
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 03-58
  • Files: TRB, RIP
  • Created Date: Aug 12 2019 9:59PM