Aviation contributes $40 billion to Tennessee economy

A new study shows that aviation contributes $40 billion to Tennessee’s economy, making up 11% of the state’s gross domestic product.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation’s Aviation Economic Impact Study also shows that aviation generated almost 221,000 jobs, $13 billion in payroll, and approximately $730 million in state tax revenue, including both visitor spending and fuel taxes.

“Airports serve as a catalyst for people to conduct business, serve clients and communities, and ship cargo,” the study report states. “Having an efficient and diverse system of airports helps support a robust economy.”

The more than 300 general aviation airports and heliports in Tennessee create jobs, contribute to the tax base, and improve productivity of nearby businesses, the study continues. 

According to the study, general aviation business tenants generated $635 million in economic impact in 2019. Data from surveys of general aviation visitors, combined with similar data from other states, was used to estimate visitor spending, adding up to approximately $8.6 billion.

The study highlighted several key contributors to the state’s economy, including the Middle Tennessee State University Aerospace Department’s flight training program, located at Murfreesboro Municipal Airport (KMBT), which operates more than 30 aircraft for its more than 1,000 students. 

View the executive summary of the Aviation Economic Impact Study.

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