Fly Me To The Moon…Florida’s Airports Support 1 Million Florida Jobs


Did you know that, according to statistics from the Federal Aviation Administration, there are over 800 registered airports, heliports, and seaplane bases in Florida?  They range in size from some of the biggest and most active airports in the world that move millions each year, to small grass airstrips that take in a single passenger airplane.  Small, medium, and large, Florida’s airports provide both direct and indirect benefit to the state’s economy through personnel costs, passenger traffic, fuel purchases, maintenance costs, and other related activities. As one of the premier tourist destinations in the world, over half of all visitors to the state arrive by air through one of Florida’s commercial or general aviation airports. 

After examining data from the Florida Airports Council, the FAA, and Florida Department of Transportation, it is clear how aviation impacts Florida’s economy – now and into the future. Consider the following:

  • Commercial airlines in Florida moved over 70 million individuals in 2012
  • Over 20 percent of the entire world’s aviation training occurs in Florida
  • Florida’s airports collectively support over 1 million Florida jobs (directly and indirectly) with a total economic impact of over $100 billion
  • Nearly 80 percent of all Florida passengers traveled via the four largest airports (Orlando, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Tampa)
  • For every $1 the state invests in the Federal Aviation Trust Fund, $.70 is returned to Florida’s airports

With the level of air travel continuing to grow, Florida’s population continuing to expand beyond 20 million residents, and considering the tourism industry’s important role in Florida, challenges abound. Currently, only 8 percent of Florida’s airports are operating at over 80 percent of capacity, but these airports handle a third of Florida’s total commercial carrier enplanements.  Rising to the challenge will require a coordinated effort among airport and aviation leaders, state and local officials, and the business community at large.  For additional information on this effort, you can visit the Florida Aviation System Plan here.

As a future economic development engine, aviation is critical to Florida’s future as a global hub for trade.  Last week, the Florida Airports Council held its annual meeting to examine its current environment, future plans, and formulate a robust policy agenda for the coming years. 

Joe Lopano, CEO of the Tampa International Airport, underscores the importance of airports to the Florida economic engine. 

"Airports are essential for the health of Florida’s economy. Our studies show one non-stop daily flight from Tampa to a major European city has a $154 million economic impact on our state and creates 1,200 jobs. Passenger air service is good for tourism, but it's also critical for attracting businesses to our state to diversify our economy," Lopano said.

Annually, Florida’s aviation system transports over 2.7 million tons of cargo.  While this represents only about 2 percent of Florida’s total freight tonnage, it is a high-value part of the state’s cargo. This is because air shipping is used primarily to transport items that are fragile, valuable, or needed quickly. The value of Florida air cargo is estimated to be nearly $50 billion annually.  As a testament to this importance, Miami International Airport is the fourth largest air cargo airport in the United States and the sixth largest in the world.  In October, at its annual Future of Florida Forum, the Florida Chamber Foundation will release the findings from the second Trade and Logistics Study.  Information on the Forum can be found here.

About the Florida Scorecard Stat:

The Florida Scorecard, located at, presents metrics across the Florida economy.  Each week the Florida Chamber Foundation produces a Scorecard Stat that takes an in-depth look at one specific stat.  If you would like additional information on the Weekly Stat or on the Florida Scorecard, please contact Sal Nuzzo with the Florida Chamber Foundation at 850.521.1283 or [email protected].

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