What is Boulder airport’s economic contribution?

Proponents claim a huge economic contribution that is hugely overestimated. The claim has many sources of error such as: 

  • It is based on regional estimates that include airports much larger and busier than BDU.
  • It uses “data” that is self-reported and unverified.
  • It assumes “multipliers” based on activities that may rarely occur at BDU.  
  • It has made no attempt to do any analysis specific to BDU. 

So the actual contribution is not clear, but is almost certainly vastly overestimated.

​Airport proponents claim that BDU generates over $60 million in annual revenue. This figure, which comes from regional estimates and includes assumptions based on airports that are VERY different from ours, is too outrageous for belief. It is not backed by any analysis specific to BDU. But even if it were true, this figure would be dwarfed by the expected economic impacts of new mixed-use neighborhoods at the site. 

We are not economists, but we spotted these sources of bad data / error in the Colorado Economics Report, which is the source of  the claim that BDU generates $60 million annual revenue:

  • “Direct impacts are all estimated at regional levels.”
  • Our data region (region 3) includes Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Clear Creek, Denver, Douglas, Gilpin, and Jefferson counties/airports. Other airports in our region include much larger and busier airports, such as Rocky Mountain Metro and Centennial Airports, that have commercial transport and cargo flights, which BDU does not have. This would greatly skew any regional estimates away from the reality of what happens at BDU. 
  • The primary data for the report was generated by self-reported surveys of airport managers, airport tenants, and out-of-state visitors. There was no verification of this self-reported data, not even spot checks. The data is considered to be proprietary so it is not available for public scrutiny. 
  • Low survey response rate (e.g. 105 of 720 Colorado airport tenants responded). 
  • No survey or data was provided that matches BDU to the reported figures. 
  • “Multiplier effects” are estimated assuming that people flying into airports also stayed, ate, and otherwise spent money in the local community. No such data is available for Boulder’s airport. 
  • BDU does not have an air traffic control tower, which makes tracking “visitors” instead of local traffic nearly impossible.