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

News Releases
Mar 31

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.”

To see the full report, click here.

Founded in 1959, with a gift of just over 200 acres of land and $6.5 million from the Ford Motor Company, University of Michigan-Dearborn is a metropolitan university serving southeastern Michigan, committed to excellence rooted in strong academics, innovative research and programming and civic engagement. The University has nearly 9,200 students pursuing more than 100 bachelor's, master’s, doctoral and professional degrees in liberal arts and sciences, engineering, business, health and education. A top- ranked university with a faculty devoted to teaching, and students committed to achievement, UM- Dearborn has been shaped by its history of partnering with local leaders and communities, and is committed to finding solutions for the challenges that face the region.

Willow Run Airport (YIP) is an important corporate, cargo and general aviation airport located in Michigan’s Ypsilanti Township. Occupying 2,600 acres, the airport has excellent services and infrastructure for airports in its class: Three runways, including an all-weather instrument landing system (ILS) runway; 24-hour aircraft rescue firefighting facilities; on-site weather bureau service; 24-hour FAA control tower and US Customs service; newly upgraded runways and taxiways; snow removal; flight instruction, cargo and hangar facilities. Willow Run is also home to the FAA’s Flight Standards District  Office, an important resource for pilots/ flight crews, and the Yankee Air Museum which hosts the annual Thunder Over Michigan Air Show and retells YIP’s storied history, from its origins as one of Henry Ford’s assembly plants, which produced more than 8,700 B-24 Liberator Bombers during WWII. Managed by Wayne County Airport Authority, Willow Run Airport is a designated reliever airport for nearby, Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW). The Airport Authority is entirely self-sustaining and does not receive tax dollars to support airport operations. Visit www.willowrunairport.com for more information.

Beth Marmarelli, UM-Dearborn
Michael Conway, WCAA
Erica Donerson
Vice President, Communications and External Affairs
Wayne County Airport Authority
Lisa Gass
Media Relations Manager1
Wayne County Airport Authority