The state of Florida’s number one industry is tourism, and tourism depends on airports to bring in all those half-frozen northerners for a few days (or more) of thawing out.
According to the state’s aviation and spaceports office, Florida’s airports employ 1.3 million people with an annual payroll of $44.5 billion. Including direct, indirect and multiplier impacts, Florida’s airports’ total contribution to the state’s economy reached $144 billion in 2014.
Broward County owns and operates two airports: the Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport (FLL) and the North Perry general aviation airport (HWO). The Ft. Lauderdale facility employs 12,500 people and supports nearly 140,000 direct, indirect and multiplier-effect jobs. The total payroll reached $3.5 billion and the total economic impact of the two airports was $13.2 billion, about 9% of the state’s total in 2014.
The airports are operated through the Broward County Board of County Commissioners. The Commission delegates the management and operations of FLL and HWO to the Broward County Aviation Department.
The two airports are monetarily self-supporting and do not use any Broward County tax revenue to support operations, maintenance or capital improvements of the airports. The Aviation Department generates funds through user fees, rentals and other charges. Bonds, fees and grants (state and federal) fund the capital improvement projects. Any surpluses are reinvested into the airport facilities.
The four largest carriers at FLL based on the number of passengers enplaning (boarding an aircraft) were:
- JetBlue Airways Corp. (NASDAQ: JBLU): 2.9 million and 22% of FLL’s total
- Spirit Airlines Inc. (NASDAQ: SAVE): 2.5 million; 19% of total
- Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE: LUV): 2.3 million; 17% of total
- Delta Air Lines Co. (NYSE: DAL): 1.6 million; 12% of total
Low-cost carriers like JetBlue and Spirit accounted for nearly 62% of passenger enplanements in 2015, up from 37.4% 10 years ago. International enplanements have also grown sharply, from 9.4% in 2005 to 20.4% in 2015.
More than 13.2 million passengers boarded a flight at FLL in 2015, up 9.9% year over year. Total passenger traffic at FLL is expected to reach 29.3 million in 2016 and average year-over-year growth in traffic is forecast at 13% for the first half of this year.
Airline revenues at Ft. Lauderdale airport rose 12.7% year over year in 2015 to $60.4 million, but were only the second-largest source of total revenues for the year. Rental car revenues totaled $63.9 million, up 8.3% year over year. Rental car revenues represented 30% of airport revenues in 2015 compared with airline revenues equaling 28% of the total.
Salaries and wages totaled $32.9 million, second to contracted services (shuttle buses, maintenance costs, etc.) of $44.3 million. The third-largest expense was law enforcement and fire and rescue costs of $26.8 million.
Operating expenses for the year totaled $135.4 million and operating revenues totaled $213.9 million.
Ft. Lauderdale International is ranked 21st in the United States in total passenger traffic and 13th in domestic origin and destination passengers. There are more than 325 departure and 325 arrival flights a day on 30 airlines. FLL offers nonstop service to more than 125 U.S. cities and flights to Canada, Bahamas, Caribbean, Mexico, Latin America and Europe. There are also 100 private flights. Each day over 73,000 travelers pass through the four terminals at FLL.