Center for Innovation Research

Willow Run Airport integral part of the Detroit region’s cargo capacity with $123 million economic impact and 950 jobs generated

DETROIT, March 31, 2015 – Willow Run Airport generates more than 950 jobs and $123 million in total economic impact throughout Michigan, according to a study released today by University of Michigan-Dearborn and Wayne County Airport Authority (WCAA). The airport also supports Detroit Metropolitan Airport’s $10.2 billion economic impact, reported in a 2014 study. 

Lee Redding, associate professor of business economics at UM-Dearborn, working with researchers from iLabs, the university’s center for innovation research, estimated how Willow Run impacts the economies of Michigan and the Southeastern Michigan Air Trade Area by measuring revenues, incomes and jobs.

“The cargo capacity available at Willow Run makes Michigan a more attractive place for business,” Redding said. “Willow Run Airport connects Michigan manufacturing companies to the world, making quick deliveries of parts and finished products more viable.”

Research findings include:

  • Willow Run Airport provides area residents and business with access to convenient and efficient cargo shipment, general aviation and other related operations. The facilities, workers, and business operating at Willow Run are responsible for an economic impact of $123 million annually, adding $40 million to area incomes and supporting 950 jobs in southeastern Michigan.
  • Air cargo is a crucial way that production facilities connect to the world; annually 54.4 million pounds of air cargo departs from Willow Run, likely representing over $2 billion in goods. The shipment of this cargo itself creates an economic impact of $44 million, supporting over 300 jobs and incomes of $14 million per year.
  • Passenger travel is limited at Willow Run, with 2527 enplanements in 2013. Visitors create an economic impact of $2.1 million, supporting $600,000 in local incomes and 21 jobs.
  • General Aviation and Education also contribute $18.7 million and $3.1 million respectively to the overall economic impact of Willow Run.
  • Willow Run is actively preparing for its future, working on capital improvement projects aimed at the airport remaining a vital component of the area economy for years to come. These activities have an economic impact of $54 million, with income impacts of $18 million supporting 457 jobs.
  • The synergy between Willow Run and Detroit Metropolitan Airport is of key economic value. With an annual economic impact of $10 billion Detroit Metropolitan is the venue most passengers use with Willow Run specializing in cargo. Being able to manage both airports for the good of the region enables the Airport Authority to allocate resources to achieve the best overall results.

“It’s clear that Willow Run Airport provides substantial economic benefits for our region,” said airport authority CEO Thomas Naughton. “Additionally, by capturing a considerable amount of the region’s cargo and general aviation air traffic, it helps Detroit Metropolitan Airport provide on-time flights.”