The Liberty Gazette
November 22, 2011Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely
Linda: In a recent conversation with an Executive of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, we discussed some of the challenges facing the aviation industry. One of the biggest is just getting to a place where the actual issues can be discussed. The obstacle to that is that too often industry advocates must spend a lot of time just educating elected officials on the importance of aviation to their constituents. The phrase, “airports are for people who don’t fly,” came about because industry participants realize that aviation affects all people, yet people who don’t fly often don’t realize how much of the products and services on which they rely are dependent upon aviation.
The FAA published a 52-page report in August this year regarding the economic impact of civil aviation on the U.S. economy. Their opening statement reads, “In today’s ever-changing and innovative world, aviation provides a vital link to economic opportunities at home and abroad. In the wake of global economic and financial uncertainties, runways have become the new main streets for cities and towns to get down to business and soar once more.” Runways are the new main streets for cities that want a stable economy. That includes towns like Liberty, Texas.
Here are a few statistics: in 2009, civil aviation supported over 10 million jobs, contributed $1.3 trillion total economic activity and accounted for 5.2 percent of total U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Civilian aircraft engines, equipment and parts have been the top net export for the past decade. Our economic success clearly depends on the success of aviation, and aviation in part depends on the health of community airports like Liberty’s.
The report recognized aviation as a catalyst for commerce, and more specifically that General Aviation (all aviation that is not airlines or military) provides a vital service to all in times of need as well as leisure activities and agricultural services. With 5,200 public-use community airports (airlines serve fewer than 600 airports nationwide),“From law enforcement, medical transportation, border control, and search and rescue missions to disaster relief and emergency evacuation, GA is there to provide a direct link and a helping hand to those in need and the most vulnerable.”
Mike: The industry is a unique engine for innovation and technological progress, providing infrastructure that keeps our nation competitive. It’s an industry that provides economic benefits for the United States and the world, and that’s why the Liberty Municipal Airport is so important. It’s one vital part of the whole, contributing to economic growth and stronger ties to local and global markets for every region in the nation. For example, air cargo, one area of General Aviation, has contributed to more effective networking and collaboration between companies far and wide.
From those 10 million jobs previously mentioned, earnings were nearly $394.4 billion. This is one industry that contributes positively to the U.S. trade balance. Aviation in this country creates high-paying jobs, helps keep just-in-time business models viable and connects friends, family and commercial opportunities. General Aviation and airports such as ours here in Liberty will continue to be an essential component of a strong and healthy American economy.