Lakeland Linder International Airport drives $1 billion economic impact

Dive into the airport’s contributions to the economy by the numbers — and could passenger service be on the horizon?

No wonder flights from Swan City are so popular. | Photo by @thelaltoday

It’s plane to see that aviation is a big deal in Lakeland, thanks to Lakeland Linder International Airport (LAL). After generating over $1 billion in economic impact according to a 2021 study, LAL shows no signs of slowing down. Here’s a look at the airport’s contributions to the economy by the numbers.

LAL’s estimated total annual output into the economy in the most recent study from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) was $575 million. Let’s break that down:

  • $210 million — Direct on-airport impacts, including airport administration, business tenants, and capital investment
  • $90 million — Visitor spending impacts, including goods + services bought at hospitality businesses, plus jobs and payroll at those businesses supported by spending
  • $275 million — Multiplier impacts, like supplier and employee purchases from local businesses
  • $204 million — Payroll paid to workers through salaries, wages, and benefits

Did you know LAL is where our newsletter gets its name? | Photo by @wacokitchenfl

Where does this money come from? LAL is a business aviation hub, home to Draken International and Amazon Air. In 2021, 754 million pounds of cargo passed through LAL, making it Florida’s fourth-busiest cargo airport.

LAL houses multiple flight schools, including those of the Aerospace Center for Excellence, Southeastern University and Polk State College. NOAA Hurricane Hunters, who fly into storms to conduct research, are also based at LAL.

Visitor spending is heavily impacted by LAL’s biggest events, such as the SUN ‘n FUN expo, one of the country’s largest aviation events. Speaking of events, this year LAL hosted the Up Up and Away Florida Hot Air Balloon Festival and was the starting point of the Air Race Classic.

What’s next for LAL? We’re excited for the opening of Waco Kitchen, coming soon to the former location of Hallback’s Bar & Grill. And if you’re interested in catching more than a bite, LAL has been consulting with an agency about possibly adding passenger service.

More from LALtoday