Air transport supports 8.8 million jobs and $1.1 trillion in North American economic activity. That is 5% of all employment and 5% of all GDP in the United States and Canada in 2018.
Every person employed in the aviation sector directly, and in aviation enabled tourism, supported another two jobs elsewhere in North America. Similarly, $2.00 of economic activity was supported elsewhere in North America for every $1 created directly by the air transport sector.
The aviation sector in North America employed an estimated 2.7 million people directly in 2018. Analysis of these workers suggests:
- 572,000 (21% of the total) were employed by airlines or handling agents as flight crew, check-in staff, maintenance crew, or head office staff
- 48,000 (2%) had jobs with airport operators in airport management, maintenance, and security
- 1.4 million (52%) worked on-site in airports at retail outlets, restaurants, and hotels
- 636,000 (24%) were employed in civil aircraft manufacturing, including systems, components, airframes, and engines
- 40,000 (1%) worked for air navigation service providers in jobs like air traffic control and engineering
Airlines, airport operators, retailers and other on-site businesses, as well as air navigation services and civil aircraft manufacturers, all contribute to GDP in North America. In 2018, the operations of these businesses generated a $364 billion direct contribution to GDP.
The aviation sector’s spending with suppliers is estimated to have supported a further 2.3 million jobs and a $300 billion contribution to GDP. In addition, spending by those employed in the aviation sector and its supply chain supported 1.5 million more jobs and a $152 billion contribution to GDP.
The aviation sector also facilitates a substantial amount of tourism in North America. This stimulates still more economic activity, as tourists spend their money in restaurants, hotels, retailers, tour operators, and on other consumer goods and services. In 2018, spending by foreign visitors who flew to North American countries supported an estimated 1.5 million jobs and contributed $152 billion to GDP.