Case Studies

This section presents 14 case studies that highlight the relationships between air service and regional economic activity.

The research team examined changes in air service and socioeconomic measures for all U.S. primary service airports and the regions they serve for the period 2008–2019. The team excluded a limited number of airports and regions (e.g., those in Alaska, Hawaii, U.S. territories, and those where air service is supported by the Essential Air Service program). This effort reflected the broader objective of helping as many airports and communities as possible to understand the relationship between air service and economic development.

To illustrate how air service has changed in relation to regional economies, the project team developed categories of airport regions that reflected broad types of air service and regional economic structures. The categories also reflect different airport hub sizes (and community populations). The 14 case studies represent a range of airports and regional economies.

  • Changes in employment and capacity during the period 2008–2019 and in capacity by hub size
    • Sustained growth in traffic and capacity during 2008–2015
    • Growth in employment and capacity during 2015–2019 (capturing a “rebound” from the Great Recession)
  • Multi-airport regions
    • Includes a focus on non-hub or small hub “shadow airports” (i.e., airports close to larger airports with which they struggle to retain passenger traffic)
  • Regions with cargo airports with different types of operations
    • Freighter
    • Amazon Air
  • Airports with international service
  • Regions with employment strength in particular industry sectors
    • Professional, scientific, technical (PST)
    • Information technology
    • Finance, insurance, and real estate
    • Transportation and logistics

The 14 case studies include the following airports:

  • Lehigh Valley International Airport (ABE)
  • Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)
  • Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS)
  • Columbia Regional Airport (COU)
  • Des Moines International Airport (DSM)
  • Fresno Yosemite International Airport (FAT)
  • Green Bay Austin Straubel International Airport (GRB)
  • Piedmont Triad International Airport (GSO)
  • Huntsville International Airport (HSV)
  • Miami International Airport (MIA)
  • Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU)
  • Reno-Tahoe International Airport (RNO)
  • San Diego International Airport (SAN)
  • Charles M. Schulz–Sonoma County Airport (STS)

What case studies are of particular interest to you? The case study matrix segregates the case studies by hub size and different characteristics of the region’s air service and/or regional economy. In some cases, one airport may illustrate more than one aspect of air service or changes in the economy.

Case Study Matrix

Case Study Matrix

Accessing the Case Studies

The case studies exist in two versions, a summary version and a full version. The summary versions of the case studies are presented in this WebResource and can be accessed by clicking on the airport icons or the links below (summary case studies are also included in ACRP Web-Only Document 53: Measuring and Understanding the Relationship Between Air Service and Regional Economic Development, a companion publication to this WebResource that can be accessed on the National Academies Press website). To access the full version of a case study, click on the link at the bottom of each summary case study page in this WebResource. A compilation of the full versions of the case studies can be found by searching on the National Academies Press website for ACRP Web-Only Document 53: Measuring and Understanding the Relationship Between Air Service and Regional Economic Development.

Case study summaries follow a standard format:

  • Region and title of case study
  • Introduction: Location of airport and why it serves as a case study
  • Economic strength of the region, including major industry sectors and economic clusters
  • Changes in air service since 2008
  • How has connectivity changed?
  • Analysis of changes in air service and regional employment
  • The airport’s connection to regional economic stakeholders

U.S. Map Showing the Location of the Case Study Airports

US map of case study airport locations

The technical report describes in detail the analyses of changes in air service and economic activity that produced the research team’s categorization of airports and economies, along with the rationales for excluding some airports.