By Morgan Dye
Americans love their local airports, but they’re still not sure how they work, according to a new national survey commissioned by Airports Council International-North America.
A majority (61%) recognized the importance of airports to the economy, with 33% saying they are “extremely important” to their local economy, a finding that is consistent with a recent ACI-NA report that attributed 10.5 million jobs and $1.2 trillion in spending to the nation’s 490 commercial airports.
“Americans know that airports are hubs of economic activity and job creation for the communities they support,” Greg Principato, president of ACI-NA, said.
More than two-thirds of respondents (67%) expressed favorable views about the airport in their community, putting this vital infrastructure ahead of the U.S. Congress (21%), Transportation Security Administration (35%), major airlines (38%), major car companies (49%), local government (50%) and public schools (61%).
Despite widespread public support, however, only one in four Americans were aware that the federal government has the power to limit how airport improvement funds are spent at the local level. Even fewer people (16%) know that general tax revenues are rarely used to fund commercial airports.
“This is important information because infrastructure investments are crucial to the ability of commercial airports to continue to meet increasing demands for passenger and cargo flights, both of which are expected to double over the next two decades,” Principato said. “Spending decisions should be made at the local level, not in Washington.”
The survey shows that Americans also recognize how important it is for airports to have enough flights to meet the needs of area residents and businesses. When asked what would happen if flights decreased at their local airport, about four in 10 respondents (44%) said it would impact the local community “a great deal.” Only 5% said it would have no effect whatsoever.
“Airports have identified $80 billion in unmet infrastructure needs,” Principato said. “Those are new runways, expanded terminals and other facilities that will give us better service and more flight options.”
Visit www.airportsforthefuture.org to learn more about the positive contributions airports are making to communities across the United States.
Public Opinion Strategies conducted a telephone survey of 600 registered voters in January on behalf of Airports Council International-North America. The margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.