Report: Long Beach Airport has $1.6B impact on region

The Long Beach Airport generated about $1.6 billion in economic impact during 2018 and helped support over 10,000 jobs, according to a recent report released by a consulting firm.

Unison Consulting, the firm that completed the analysis, looked at operations at the airport and the surrounding airport complex that includes the recently developed Douglas Park in measuring the impact. And for the first time, the report looked at the impact of visitor spending on the local economy.

It identified the airport complex as the businesses bound on the east and west by Cherry and Clark avenues and by the 405 Freeway to the south and Carson Street to the north. In total, those businesses and the airport combined to have an $8.6 billion impact on the regional economy and help support 46,000 jobs.

The dollar figures and tens of thousands of jobs the airport complex supports have a multiplying effect in that visitors also purchase products services from surrounding cities. The area of study included in the report encompasses five counties including Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, Ventura and San Bernardino.

The airport complex includes over 440 businesses ranging from those that operate at the airport to newer additions like the retail operations at Long Beach Exchange. The output by the area could grow again after the sale of the old Boeing manufacturing plant for $200 million earlier this year to an Australian company that is expected to develop it into a “twenty-first century employment district.”

Australian company buys former Boeing C-17 manufacturing site for more than $200 million

The report is the first of its kind since 2016 when the airport underwent a feasibility study to examine the impact the addition of a international terminal would have on operations. Before that, the last economic report was released in 2012.

“The report is important because Long Beach Airport is trying o strike a balance between being an asset that contributes to the city’s economic vitality while also being a good neighbor,” said airport public affairs officer Kate Kuykendall.

She said that while there are good things that go along with having an airport, like national exposure and added revenue for the city and surrounding businesses, there can be negatives like noise and air quality concerns.

Kuykendall said the report provides an opportunity for the airport to not only show the importance it plays in the city but also to introduce members of the community to what the airport does outside of providing flights.

Over the past seven years the airport has seen steady growth in total passengers traveling in and out of the city. During the 2012 fiscal year, Long Beach saw just over 3.2 million passengers use its airport; in 2018 that number grew to over 4 million.

The airport itself generated about $47.8 million in 2018 with the bulk of that coming from airlines ($18.89 million) and parking ($10 million). Over the next five years, when a large-scale update of the airport is scheduled to be completed, another $157.8 million in construction expenditures are expected to flow through the airport.

Off-airport spending, an element that had not be analyzed until this most recent report, showed a range of spending between general aviation and commercial passengers. General aviation travelers spent an average of $335 in the area while commercial fliers spent about $546.

Those figures, gathered from surveys from over 1,000 passengers, were spread among spending on hotels, ground transportation, restaurants and other retail purchases in the area, according to the report.

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Jason Ruiz has been covering City Hall for the Post for nearly a decade. A Long Beach resident, Ruiz graduated from Cal State Long Beach with a degree in journalism. He and his wife Kristina and, most importantly, their dog Mango, live in Long Beach. He is a particularly avid fan of the Dallas Cowboys and the UCLA Bruins, which is why he sometimes comes to work after the weekend in a grumpy mood.