Prominent signage at the airport indicates that MSP International Airport generates $10 billion in economic impact to the region. How is that figure derived?
MAC retained InterVISTAS, - aviation, travel and tourism experts who have conducted similar studies for other airports throughout North America, to do the analysis using standard principles for measuring economic impact. Based on 2012 data, InterVISTAS estimates that MSP provides the local community with $5.7 billion in direct economic impact, $2.3 billion in induced impact, and $2.2 billion in indirect impact for a total of $10.1 billion in overall economic impact to the community from the airport activities. Additionally, the study documented more than 76,000 jobs in the Twin Cities tied to that spending.
We often hear from convention planners how it is more expensive to fly in and out of MSP in comparison to other cites against which we compete. How would you respond to that sentiment?
Whenever surveys on fares are done, it seems that MSP shows up as an expensive place to be flying from. The surveys are not strictly accurate, nor do they reflect the level of service that exists at the various airports included. In fact, When measured against the top 100 largest airports in the U.S. (MSP is currently the 16th largest), MSP fell from 15th in 2012 to 20th in 2014. One of MSP’s advantages is the large number of direct flights to one of the highest number of locations of any airport in the country. Because of that high number, there are many routes with no competition. Those where multiple airlines fly are amongst the most competitive in the nation, which is why adding service from multiple carriers is so critical to the community. MSP is currently experiencing almost unprecedented growth in competitive air service.
What role does the Airport Foundation MSP play in making MSP more visitor friendly?
The Airport Foundation MSP is a critical and incredibly positive piece of the Customer Experience at MSP. MSP is the only airport in North America, and to my knowledge the world, to enjoy the services of its own non-profit foundation. The Airport Foundation MSP is vital to ensuring travelers have a great experience at the airport through the Travelers Assistance Program with nearly 400 volunteers, having contact with over 1.65 million people and contributing more than 66,500 hours of volunteer service to the travelling public. They also administer the Arts@MSP program, assist with airport beautification projects and artwork at MSP and they fund such family services as the Children’s Play Areas.
What developments are on the horizon for MSP that will enhance the visitor experience?
Long term planning for MSP indicates that there is plenty of airfield capacity for at least the next 20 years if the airlines continue operate as they are. The focus of virtually all improvements anticipated over the next five years are related to improving the experience of using MSP as a passenger. We will be adding an Airport Hotel. There will be a complete remodel of the ticketing and baggage claim areas of Terminal 1 and continuous efforts to improve access for all to all of our facilities at T-1 and T-2. Parking will be added and roadway changes will occur along with improvements to curbside service at both Terminals. In all, nearly $2.5 billion in improvements are expected – all aimed at improving the facilities and the customer experience at MSP.
Can you highlight some of the key accolades MSP has received recently?
We have been acknowledged for a variety of projects and activities in 2015, including recognition for our airport experience, developing the largest solar electric generation system in the state of Minnesota, partnering with community groups to host Hockey Day Minnesota at our St. Paul Downtown Airport, efforts to assist travelers with disabilities, financial management, concessions program management and leadership on state airport issues, and parking and engineering efforts. Awards were given to individual staff members as well as to MAC as an organization. In the category of the first of its kind – MAC received an Emmy Award for the Hockey Day Minnesota project.