Fayetteville Arkansas, University of Arkansas--Old Main Overview

Fayetteville Arkansas, University of Arkansas--Old Main Overview
Overview of Fayetteville, AR

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

General Aviation Airports are Big Business in NW Arkansas

NW Arkansas is lucky to have several excellent general aviation airports. The airports contribute to the economy by providing jobs, paying taxes, and serving many of the businesses located here. They serve not only the owner of a 2-seat propeller airplane but businesses of all sizes.

In fact, Rogers’ and Fayetteville’s general aviation airports are two of the most successful in the state, according to a recent study commissioned by the Arkansas Department of Aeronautics. Their combined annual economic impact is estimated at $128 million including direct factors such as fuel sales and the trickle-down effect of indirect factors such as wages paid to employees who then spend that income locally.

Rogers Municipal Airport at Carter Field is home to Wal-Mart’s corporate fleet, a fact that certainly helps explain why that airport is the most lucrative general aviation airport in the state. (According to information I was given at the Wal-Mart Museum in Bentonville, Wal-Mart ‘s fleet consists of 21-22 jets.)

Fayetteville Municipal Airport, Drake Field, is home to the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville’s jets. Drake Field’s revenue was ranked fourth in the state, generating $34 million, the ADA study found. It’s commonplace there to have people fly in for Razorback games.

In addition to Rogers and Fayetteville, Springdale and Siloam Springs have general aviation airports with thriving charter service. Springdale’s airport includes a complete aircraft maintenance facility and a 300-foot runway expansion is under consideration.

General aviation airports offer expediency and cost savings to corporations both large and small. It’s easy to understand how Wal-Mart would save money by flying several executives to another city and back in the same day.

But the airports also offer savings for smaller corporations in outlying areas such as Siloam Springs. That city is home to Allen Canning and Simmons Foods, corporations that also have the need to move people expeditiously to other facilities throughout the country. “Without these airports, small communities just aren’t as viable,” said Mark Anderson, Allen Canning’s chief pilot. “For us, people would lose a whole day driving. It’s about the utility and efficiency.”

Another major economic factor is the businesses such as support services, aviation industries and airfreight companies that locate on the periphery of airports.

Speed, convenience and privacy of charter jet service are also becoming increasingly attractive to individuals who can afford it. A 2004 survey conducted by the National Business Aviation Association found that two-thirds of charter operations had a significant portion of new business from travelers who had stopped flying on commercial carriers.

The Arkansas Department of Aeronautics recently reported that in the last 10 years the number of general aviation aircraft based in the state has risen from about 2,300 to 2,808. Between 2005 and 2025, the department estimates that the number of general aviation business jets will increase in number from 182 to 531, almost tripling in number in 20 years.

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