What travel slump? Airport says economic impact zooms

Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport generates about $32.6 billion in direct business revenue in metro Atlanta -- up nearly 40 percent over four years despite a drop in passenger volume last year, according to a new study it commissioned.

The airport said the growth is due to higher passenger volumes over the long run, longer stays and more spending over the past four years, even though travel has declined during the slow economy in the last couple of years. The study, done about every four years, was conducted by Economic Development Research Group and CH2M Hill with Hartsfield Planning Cooperative.

Hartsfield-Jackson's passenger volume fell 2 percent in 2009, after a gain of less than 1 percent in 2008.

An airport spokesman could not immediately say how much the airport spends on the study, which was released at a news conference.

Some of the other findings:

  • The airport's total economic impact, including direct, indirect and induced revenues, amounted to $58.2 billion in 2009, up from $44.8 billion in 2005. (Direct revenue comes from jobs generated by the airport that would disappear if airport activity ceased; indirect includes the purchases of goods and services by the airport or related firms; and induced includes money generated by the spending of wages by workers at the airport, tenants and suppliers.)
  • About 58,000 jobs were based at Hartsfield-Jackson in 2009, up from 56,500 in 2005.
  • In the 28-metro county region, there were about 434,400 airport-related jobs in 2009, up from 393,100 four years earlier.
  • In the state of Georgia, airport-related jobs numbered 506,380, up from 473,000 in 2005.
  • The counties with the most on-airport employees as residents were South Fulton, Clayton, DeKalb and Henry.
  • The business sectors with the most off-airport spending in metropolitan Atlanta by travelers arriving at Hartsfield-Jackson were retail with $2.9 billion, entertainment with $1.4 billion, restaurants with $3.3 billion, hotels with $4.7 billion and transportation with $1.7 billion.