BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - To be a smaller airport, Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport (BTR) packs a big economic punch.
According to a new study, the airport and its business park provide more than 4,000 jobs and just over a billion dollars in economic impact each year. Those numbers include $19.5 million in state tax revenue. However, the study also shows room for improvement.
The study, which was ordered by airport officials in May, also shows that 63 percent of the travelers living and working within 100 miles of Baton Rouge do not use BTR airport. Most of those lost customers, called leakage in the industry, are making the drive to New Orleans which boasts more routes and often lower prices. New Orleans also attracts more customers traveling for leisure or tourism.
Researchers say Baton Rouge can boost their airport users by focusing on local business travelers.
Baton Rouge is home to many businesses who have employees that need to travel. Not long ago, advocates for Hollywood South made a push for a direct flight from Baton Rouge to Los Angeles.
The Baton Rouge Airport Commission hopes to use this study to partner with those businesses and gain more fliers. With more fliers, the airport can also attract more airlines or routes.
"Once we identify markets that they need served, because they're now driving to New Orleans, we can give them this study and talk about incentive packages," said BTR Director of Aviation Anthony Marino.
Community business partners can also provide airlines with extra incentives that the airport, by law, cannot provide. For example, business can create an incentive fund that airlines can dip into to if flights are low to ensure they hit their profit margin.
"They may not necessarily need any of that money," said Marino. "But, they need that assurance that if you believe there's a market in Baton Rouge to a certain city and you want me to come to that market then I need to have those revenue guarantees."