The Springfield Airport: An Economic Engine for the Region

The Springfield Airport: An Economic Engine for the Region

The annual total economic output of the Springfield airport is $402,017,000. Put another way, the airport’s economic clout accounts for 2.48% of the Springfield metro’s total economic output. *

“I knew the airport had a big impact on the area, but the numbers surprised me — I suspect it will surprise a lot of people,” says Brian Weiler, Springfield’s airport director. “We’re sort of hidden in the northwest part of the city, out of sight and out of mind.”

The economic numbers are part of a study released this week by the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT). The Missouri Statewide Airports Economic Impact Study concludes that Missouri’s 108 airports generated $11.1 billion in economic output in 2012. That’s 4.3% of the state’s $258 billion gross state product in 2012.

“In addition to airports’ status as a substantial job and payroll contributor, we found communities large and small rely on Missouri airports to spur economic growth and increase access to regional and worldwide markets,” says MoDOT Director Dave Nichols.

The Springfield airport’s total economic output numbers are impressive by themselves: 4,454 total jobs, with a payroll of $154,280,000. Total economic output: $402,017,000 (see table below for Missouri’s top five economic generating airports and MoDOT’s explanation).

“The Springfield airport is, in a very real sense, an economic hub,” says Weiler. “The list of companies doing business here is long. It includes airlines, restaurants, gift stores, air cargo companies, corporations that own their own planes, plus city and federal employees.”

The biggest economic generators at the airport are the online travel company Expedia, and the Missouri National Guard’s aviation repair depot. The Guard employs approximately 358 people at the airport. Expedia has nearly 1000 employees at its airport offices located in the retired airport terminal building.

Besides being an economic power house, the Springfield airport provides the region with access to the world economy. In the last five years the number of international round trips at the airport has increased 25%.

The airport’s marketing manager, Kent Boyd, says the importance of international air traffic is impossible to overstate. “We no longer live in a world dominated by North America’s economy. U. S. domestic air travel, as a percentage of world air travel, is rapidly declining. For the Springfield area to be a player in the world economy, it must have easy access to international destinations — particularly to Asia, the Middle East, and Western Europe.”

The Springfield airport has access to all of those regions with just one connecting flight.

“Suppose a Chinese business man in Beijing needs to fly to Springfield to investigate a potential plant site,” says Boyd. “All he has to do is catch a United or American Airlines flight from Beijing to Chicago. From Chicago he flies straight to Springfield. That’s the kind of access a community has to have to prosper in today’s world economy. It’s an incredibly valuable resource that we can’t even begin to put a value on.”

When viewed from this perspective, the airport is invaluable —especially considering that it’s self-supporting. It operates without local or state tax revenues. The airport’s budget is funded by user fees, and money generated from leases and contracts with companies that do business at the airport.



* The annual economic impact of the Springfield metro, or annual Gross Metro Product (GMP), was $16.2 billion in 2012. Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics. GMP is defined as the value of all goods and services produced in a metropolitan area. The Springfield metro is defined as Greene, Polk, Webster, Christian, and Dallas counties.

Top Five Missouri Airports Measured by Economic Impact










  1. Kansas City International








  1. St. Louis-Lambert   International








  1. Springfield National








  1. St. Louis-Spirit of St. Louis








  1. St. Joseph




Source: MoDOT. Total numbers reflect both direct, indirect, and induced economic impacts. MoDOT defines direct economic output as the output “based on the employment, wages, and sales generated by on-airport business activity.”


Indirect economic impacts “arise from visitors arriving by aircraft and spending their money on food, hotels, entertainment, transportation, and other activities. These expenditures support additional jobs, wages, and output.”


Induced economic impact is “created through the “spin-off” effect of users purchasing goods and services from other local businesses and through workers spending wages and other income for household goods and services. For example, when an airport employee is paid, they user their salary to purchase local goods and services at businesses in the area, which in turn spend their revenue locally, thus generating additional economic activity in the region.”