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HUBER & RODRIGUEZ: IND helps Indy’s economy prepare for takeoff

May 18, 2018

huber-rodriguez-viewpoint1.jpgNext week, Indianapolis International Airport will inaugurate Indiana’s first nonstop transatlantic flight, a Delta Air Lines route to Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris. This direct flight between the Circle City and the City of Lights is exciting news for Indianapolis, and a global milestone in the airport’s steady expansion of nonstop service.

Springtime in Paris might first inspire romantic thoughts about dream vacations … but the estimated $50 million economic impact of this flight should be celebrated, too. Passengers and businesses will gain access to more than 100 destinations across Europe, Africa, the Middle East and India via one-stop connections at Paris.

Airports serve two basic functions—moving people and moving cargo. By excelling at both, Indianapolis International serves a regional economy that’s increasingly diverse and dynamic, with an impact that extends across the state.

In 2017, the airport served more than 8.7 million passengers, a record-setting number with special significance in our global, talent-driven economy. Just like reasonable tax rates and good schools, a city’s airborne accessibility is part of a 21st century business climate; Indianapolis International is an appealing “front door” to the Indy market.

And Indianapolis can be proud of the welcome the airport provides its visitors— business executives and investors, skilled workers and leisure travelers alike—as exceptional passenger feedback helped Indianapolis International earn a sixth consecutive award as the best airport in North America by the Airports Council International in 2017.

“Creative class” guru Richard Florida studied large metropolitan airports with colleagues at the Martin Prosperity Institute and found “the number of passengers and flights are related to economic output, wages [and] concentrations of high-tech industry.”

Florida’s analysis got practical confirmation in Amazon’s HQ2 sweepstakes, which prioritized direct routes to major metros and technology hubs. Indianapolis International’s 51 nonstop destinations (an all-time record) helped Indy check that box and advance to the HQ2 finals.

IND is also ranked eighth in cargo volume for U.S. airports, claiming a spot among the top two dozen international cargo hubs. This elite position is driven largely by the presence of the second-largest FedEx operation in the world. FedEx is working closely with the Indianapolis Airport Authority, state and local officials on a $1.5 billion expansion plan for this facility over the next seven years.

As a passenger-friendly airport eagerly pursuing new routes, Indianapolis International helps our business community connect to the world and compete for the talent that’s building one of the nation’s fastest-growing tech sectors. As a million-ton-a-year freight-shipping powerhouse, the airport helps elevate Indy as a leading export region for medicines and medical devices, automotive and aerospace components, and much more at the epicenter of the most manufacturing-intensive state in the nation.

The Paris flight is another boost for the airport’s $5.8 billion contribution to our economy and our global growth. By opening a direct route to the heart of Europe, it opens the door wider to Europe’s 21 percent of global gross domestic product for exporting, investment and alliances. France itself represents significant foreign employment in Indianapolis, with 49 Paris-area companies already operating in the region.

Airports are regional gateways to people, employers and markets. Indianapolis International Airport is an economic asset that becomes more valuable with every passenger it serves, cargo shipment it speeds towards its destination, and new flight it adds to an ever-growing list.•

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Huber is president and CEO of the Indy Chamber. Rodriguez is executive director of the Indianapolis Airport Authority.

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