060219 bz airport

Christopher Tomlinson/The Daily Sentinel

A United Airlines jet soars in front of Mount Garfield as it takes off on a recent trip from Grand Junction to Denver. A state transportation study showed that Grand Junction Regional Airport contributed more than $710 million to the Colorado economy between 2012 and 2018.

Grand Junction Regional Airport’s economic impact to the state nearly doubled between 2012 and 2018, according to early results from a Colorado Department of Transportation study.

The airport contributed more than $710 million toward the state’s economy in 2018 per CDOT’s Statewide Aviation Economic Impact Study. This was an 87% increase over 2012, the last time the study was conducted. That year, the airport had a $380 million impact. Grand Junction’s airport demonstrated the largest economic growth out of any western Colorado airport during that time span.

CDOT’s Division of Aeronautics conducts the study roughly every five years and looks at airport operations, businesses operating at the airport, visitor spending and jobs created from construction projects.

“In addition to our growing commercial operations, we are very fortunate to have a diverse foundation of economic influencers such as West Star Aviation and BLM’s Fire and Aviation Management Unit,” Grand Junction Regional Airport Executive Director Angela Padalecki said in a press release. “Job creation and competitive wages are an important priority to economic growth in our region. This is just the beginning of a healthy and progressive trend.”

The study states that the airport is responsible for 3,399 jobs and nearly $190 million in payroll, adding 589 jobs since 2012. Wage growth also outpaced job growth by more than double during that time.

Passenger traffic grew steadily during that time as Allegiant, American, United and SkyWest increased the number of flights to Las Vegas, Denver, Phoenix, Dallas, Salt Lake City and seasonally to Los Angeles. Since 2018, the airport has added a regular flight on Allegiant Air to Mesa, Arizona, and United brought in a seasonal flight to Chicago.

Several construction projects also played a role in the uptick and the $150 million runway project underway will play a part in the next study. The presence of West Star Aviation, which is consistently ranked as the most preferred general aviation repair specialist, drawing in general pilots from around the country for service, also contributed.

And the economy’s recovery from the recession and subsequent growth were paramount.

“It’s a reflection of not only aviation, but our local economy,” airport spokesman Joe Burtard said.

Denver International Airport reportedly grew 30% during that span and had an economic impact of $33.5 billion in 2018.

The state has estimated each airport’s contribution to the state economy since 1996. The full 2018 impact study should be released in April.

“The Division of Aeronautics is proud to partner with GJT and 73 other public-use airports as we work statewide to support aviation and airports as a key part of Colorado’s multi-modal transportation system,” CDOT Aeronautics Director David Ulane said in a press release. “The increased economic impact at GJT is echoed statewide, underscoring the importance and value of aviation across all of Colorado.”

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