Passengers at the Edward McNamara Terminal in November. Metro Airport is known as one of the most efficient airports in the nation and has won accolades for its two terminals. (David Coates / The Detroit News)
Despite flat passenger numbers through its gates, Detroit Metropolitan Airport remains an economic engine that has pumped nearly $10.2 billion dollars into the state’s economy, according to a study released Tuesday.
The study, by the Wayne County Airport Authority and the University of Michigan-Dearborn, also finds that Metro Airport has produced 86,000 jobs, with 18,000 at the airport alone. The chief impact, authors say, is the economic benefit of air transportation and those spending money in the state.
The study covers the 12 months ending June 2013.
“The report underscores the critical importance of providing operational excellence at Detroit Metro Airport because of the enormous effect it has on the economy of our region and state,” said Thomas Naughton, the CEO for the Wayne County Airport Authority, which runs Metro Airport. “We are very conscious of the role we play in stimulating prosperity, jobs and even careers. And we have a responsibility to do this right.
“The continued success of our vital airports translates to economic growth and business development that reaches far beyond our terminal walls and runways.”
Metro Airport is known as one of the most efficient airports in the nation and has won accolades for its two terminals. But despite its reputation, Metro has seen the number of passengers stall with an average of 32 million people annually since 2010. Airport officials say half are local travelers with the other half using the airport to connect to other flights.
“The numbers were strong,” said Lee Redding, an associate professor of business economics at U of M-Dearborn, who, along with his students, assisted in the study. “We expected them to be strong so we weren’t particularly surprised by that, but it was good to see.
“Detroit Metro Airport connects us to the world,” he said. “More than 600,000 people rely on the airport to purchase and sell Michigan products, which ultimately benefits the state’s economy.”
Among the findings of the study, which included interviews with 1,630 travelers at Metro:
■ At least 3.1 million of the 32 million passengers who travel through Metro Airport for business or pleasure end up staying in Michigan.
■ Each year, passengers spend nearly $1.7 billion, which authors claim has a $3.2 billion economic impact on the region.
■ At least 66,000 people who go through the airport “arrange the purchase or sale of Michigan products or services.”
The authors of the report studied the transportation impact, which includes passenger and cargo travel at the airport; the visitor impact from those who pass through Metro Airport to visit Detroit and other locations in the state; and the economic impact that measures spending in the region and jobs created.
Some of the results came from a passenger survey at the departure gates at Metro in both terminals in July and August last year.
Detroit News Staff Writer Michael Martinez contributed.