The Economic Impact of a Local Air Service

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

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For small towns and cities like Gallup, NM, accessible local air travel is critical and an important link between a community’s economic vitality. The local economy suffers when there’s a lack of access to the national transportation system. Air service is a CRUCIAL component for any region looking to attract an industrial presence. Providing local businesses with access to the global market can help attract and retain business in a community, thus providing jobs and economic prosperity for the area and its residents. Small communities in particular can obtain economic benefits from connection to the global air transportation network. For instance, direct service to a medium or large airline hub can provide one-stop access to hundreds of additional destinations around the globe. As our economy grows and smaller communities struggle to compete in the global marketplace, airports have become a vital link to survival.

But what is an airport without an airline to service it? Safe, reliable air service creates an environment that allows both existing and new businesses to succeed and thus increases a community’s tax base. Air service is, quite simply, vital to a community’s economic growth and vitality. Considering the high cost of maintaining and operating aircraft, combined with low passenger counts and the need for affordable fares in small markets, it’s no wonder that providing air service to small towns and cities is increasingly challenging.

The State of New Mexico Rural Air Service Enhancement Act (RASE) was put into place to ensure that small communities that might not otherwise receive any scheduled operations, could attract scheduled air service, providing access to a large- or medium-hub airports. This program provides a mix of State- and City-allocated funds essentially creating a mix of subsidies to entice airlines to enter the smaller markets in New Mexico.

Commercial air service is important to the economic growth and quality of life in rural communities. Businesses in these communities need access to medium and large hubs, allowing connections to the national transportation system. This is a key factor in the decision-making process when businesses are choosing headquarter locations. Local industries need the convenience of daily flights to attract both customers and employees, bringing much needed revenue to the local market.

Often, another significant challenge for smaller rural communities is attracting medical professionals to the area. Reliable air service can be critical to the decision-making process for these professionals to relocate to the area. Alternatively, reliable air service can provide residents access to vital medical care in larger cities.

The value of air service, however, does not just support the business traveler. It provides quality of life for the residents of the small community providing access to national and even global destinations. Additionally, incoming tourism dollars bring much needed revenue to a small town or city. Gallup has so much to offer in arts and culture, outdoor adventures, history and heritage, unique dining experiences and local events.

Many of Gallup’s businesses and residents depend on the aviation industry for access to markets at the nation’s air transportation system. This important industry is an economic generator and attracting safe, efficient, and reliable air service will ensure that Gallup continues to thrive.

- Barbara Hunt, VP Business Operations of the privately-owned, regional commercial air carrier,

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