Bremerton Airport Is Huge Economic Engine, Says State's Top Aviator
Jul 25, 2012
BREMERTON — It's not every day 30 people show up to a
sleepy, midsummer meeting of the Port of Bremerton commissioners.
But that was the case Tuesday evening when the state's top
aviation official showed up to explain how important Bremerton National Airport
is to the local economy.
"The value far exceeds whatever that cost may be,"
Tristan Atkins, director of the Department of Transportation Aviation Division,
told the crowd of politicians, pilots and curious onlookers.
Atkins is visiting some of the state's 135 public airports
to share the results of a study his office just released spelling out the value
of those airports. He'll use the study to promote future investment in aviation
For instance, he hopes to take a proposal to the 2013
Legislature that would redirect a larger portion of an excise tax paid by
aircraft owners away from the state's general fund and toward aviation. Right
now, the general fund receives 90 percent of the tax, and aviation gets what's
left. Atkins wants to make it 50-50.
"My approach is not to increase taxes, but simply to
restructure the existing system," he said.
Runways and taxiways at airports across the state need
repaving and upgrades, and there's just not enough money to do all that's
needed, he said.
"If we don't do something about it now, it's going to
cost us more in the future," said Atkins, who before taking his current
position last year was the longtime commander of the Washington State Patrol's
fleet of planes.
Bremerton National's runway was repaved in 2009, but
portions of it hadn't received a new top coat in 30 years.
According to the new study, 549 jobs — direct and indirect —
are generated by activity at Bremerton National. That translates to $25 million
in annual wages and $83 million in annual economic activity.
Statewide, he said, public airports account for 248,500
jobs, $15 billion in wages and $51 billion in economic activity.
Most of that takes place at Washington's "Big
Four" airports — Sea-Tac International, Paine Field, Boeing Field and
More about Bremerton National:
* Some 194 aircraft are based there. Most are single-engine
aircraft, but three jets, 11 multi-engine craft, five helicopters and one
glider call the airport home, too.
* Because there's little surrounding Bremerton National,
it's seen among pilots as a favored place to train new pilots.
* Each year, Bremerton National has about 65,000 takeoffs
The study also mentioned two other much smaller aircraft
facilities in Kitsap County.
Apex Airpark near Silverdale has 55 aircraft based there.
Some 19,600 takeoffs and landings occur there annually, and the small airstrip
is responsible for 14 direct and indirect jobs.
The Port of Poulsbo's seaplane base has about 275 takeoffs
and landings each year, but only has a small economic impact.
More on the DOT study, called the Aviation Economic Impact
Study, is at the Aviation Division's website at www.wsdot.wa.gov/aviation. Most of the study was funded by the
Federal Aviation Administration.