Continued growth of environmental and spatial impacts in the vicinity of airports is largely justified on economic grounds. Substantial claims are made by the aviation industry concerning the contribution of air travel and transport to the economy and the associated employment benefits. In this study we have looked at three such studies and tested the arguments brought forward to underpin policy recommendations regarding airport expansion and flight restrictions.
Our main conclusion is that each of three reports studies has significant flaws with important implications for policy makers:
- Strong conclusions are presented without formal cost-benefit analysis
- Reports focus on total impact of aviation, where the additional or marginal impact from new developments should be the focal point
- Employment is not a good indicator for the sector’s contribution to the economy, because people would not become unemployed if aviation activity were to be limited. Budgets may well be spend elsewhere, leading to employment in other sectors
- Employment figures should not, in any case, be related to a county’s overall employment
- Reports often center (implicitly) around regional impact, where in most cases the impact at national level is more interesting from a policy makers perspective