Overseas international flights at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) make a substantial contribution to the economy of Southern California, adding $82.1 billion in total economic output, according to a study by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC), HR&A and SH&E. Additionally, the LAEDC study revealed that the LAX flights created 363,700 direct and indirect jobs with annual wages of $19.3 billion in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego and Ventura Counties in 2006.
Over the course of 2006, an average transoceanic flight traveling round-trip from LAX every day added $623 million in economic output and sustained 3,120 direct and indirect jobs in Southern California with $156 million in wages. The economic output, jobs, and wages were calculated from the production and transportation of freight exports (carried in the belly of the plane), the transportation of freight imports, the operation of the airport itself, and the purchases made by international visitors on the flights. Freight exports (which are generally high-value items) accounted for over 80% of the annual economic activity generated by international flights at LAX.
Despite these remarkable figures, the total economic impact could have been higher. The LAEDC study reported that LAX lost market share relative to competitor airports, measured as the percentage of
all passengers on non-stop transoceanic flights to the United States who arrived at LAX, 2000-2006. If the airport’s market share had held steady at its 2000 level, LAX would have had about nine more daily transoceanic flights in 2006. The additional flights would have added up to $5.6 billion more in economic output, along with up to 28,100 direct and indirect jobs with annual wages of $1.4 billion.
Still more economic activity is at stake as international carriers plan routes for their new long-range Airbus and Boeing aircraft scheduled for delivery during the next five years. Several of these carriers are seriously considering deploying their new aircraft at other U.S. gateways if they do not see improvements to facilities at LAX. Considerable economic activity is at risk when an airline chooses another international gateway instead of LAX for daily overseas international flight.