Alaska's Aces: The aviation industry flies forward despite global pandemic.

Author:Orr, Vanessa
 
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The importance of the aviation industry to Alaska can't be understated; not only does it provide a huge number of jobs in the state--almost 8 percent of all employment--but it is also responsible for transporting much of the food, products, and other necessities that residents need in their daily lives.

The industry also transports tourists, who bring money into the state, as well as much of the equipment needed to keep Alaska's manufacturing and natural resource industries running. And with more than 82 percent of Alaska's communities not connected to the road system, it is at times a literal lifeline for those living outside the handful of urban areas.

'The effects of the aviation industry ripple throughout the entire economy," explains Bill Popp, president and CEO of the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation. "One out of ten jobs in Anchorage is in aviation, and those workers buy food in stores and purchase goods in retail outlets, as well as pay for services like auto maintenance and home repair.

"This creates a very significant ripple effect, which has been one of the great diversifiers of our economy in the last thirty years," he continues.

"This is especially important in times like these because it runs countercyclical to broader statewide and national recessions."

By the Numbers

According to the study 2019 Economic Contribution of the Aviation Industry to Alaska's Economy, the aviation industry generates nearly $3.8 billion in economic activity throughout the state's airport system. It contributed more than 35,000 jobs to the state economy in 2017, including 26,000 jobs in the Alaska International Aviation System, which comprises Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC) and Fairbanks International Airport.

According to the Alaska Department of Transportation b Public Facilities (DOT&PF), there are nearly 400 public-use general aviation airports across the state, and the department owns and operates 239 airports. These facilities are home to about 8,800 registered aircraft and 8,300 pilots.

In addition, the FAA reports that the state is home to forty-six repair stations, three FAA-approved pilot schools, 1,748 student pilots, and 1,449 flight instructors. There are also 51 fixed-base operators and 101 heliports. Alaska also has 109 seaplane bases-the most in the country.

In Anchorage alone, the numbers are impressive.

'The aviation industry is responsible for approximately 22,000 jobs related to the airport; about 16,000 direct onsite jobs and 6,500 offsite," says ANC Manager Jim Szczesniak. "ANC has an economic impact in Alaska of about $1.84 billion a year--$1 billion in direct economic impact with the salaries of employees pouring into the economy and an $840 million multiplier effect."

ANC is the world's fifth busiest air cargo...

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