Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport’s $38 Billion Economic Impact

Published: Friday, May 19, 2017 - 7:35am

(Photo by Christina Estes - KJZZ)
Approximately 1,000 airport workers are city of Phoenix employees.
(Photo by Christina Estes - KJZZ)
A study by ASU's W.P. Carey School of Business found Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport's annual economic impact was $38 billion in 2016.

A new study by the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University shows the total economic impact for Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport tops $38 billion a year. That’s $10 billion more since the last study, thanks to the economic recovery and more defense spending.

In the past five years, total jobs related to airport activity increased 11 percent, while payroll jumped 36 percent. The higher salaries can be attributed to aerospace companies like Honeywell that use airport space, according Jordan Feld, deputy aviation director.

“Those jobs are particularly high-end salaries and so just adding a few of those jobs has a huge multiplier effect on the economy, because those aerospace jobs then purchase product from other aerospace manufacturers and so that has this ripple effect of raising lots of high-paying jobs within our region,” he said.

While 57,432 jobs are directly tied to Sky Harbor, the study finds Phoenix’s airport system supports a total of 269,000 jobs with an annual payroll of more than $13 billion. 

“Economic impact covers everything from how many people are working and taking home paychecks to how much construction is happening,” said Deborah Ostreicher, assistant aviation director. “Anything that’s pumping vitality into the community is considered economic impact.” 

She said the impact from international flights is $3 billion a year. The study found direct spending by international visitors flying from Canada, the United Kingdom, Mexico and Costa Rica added up to nearly $710 million in 2016 compared to $388 million in 2011. 

The report includes data for Phoenix Sky Harbor, Phoenix Deer Valley and Phoenix Goodyear Airports with the bulk of the impact coming from Sky Harbor.

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