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Adding up the Ottawa Airport’s economic impact

Study finds airport supports nearly 11,000 jobs

A plane berthed at the Ottawa International Airport
A plane berthed at the Ottawa International Airport

The Ottawa International Airport (YOW) is well known to locals as a catalyst for business development and trade, as well as a gateway to domestic, U.S. and other international vacation destinations.

What’s not always as visible is the airport’s role as a major employer and an economic engine for Canada’s Capital Region.

The Airport Authority recently hired WSP Consulting to quantify the airport’s annual contributions to the local economy, tallying up the number of people whose jobs depend on YOW, as well as its contribution to GDP and taxes paid.

Here are some of the key findings:

  • Impact on GDP: $1.04 billion
  • Employment generated: 10,776 jobs
  • Wages and salaries generated: $602.3 million
  • Total income tax generated: $109.9 million

“Our principal mission is to be a leader in providing quality, safe, secure, sustainable and affordable air transportation,” says Mark Laroche, the President and CEO of the Ottawa International Airport Authority. “Equally important is being a driver of economic growth. This study confirms that we’re doing just that.”

Beyond the passenger terminal 

Anyone who’s taken a flight from YOW knows it’s a bustling place that requires the hard work of thousands of individuals who check bags, screen passengers, staff concessions, service aircraft and more.

But that only scratches the surface.

The airport supports thousands of additional indirect jobs, such as positions at local hotels, travel agencies and shipping firms.

There’s a third layer of economic activity generated by the airport, known as induced impact. It tracks how a dollar earned by an airport employee can have a proportionately larger economic effect as it’s spent on a restaurant meal, for example.

The induced impact is particularly noteworthy given that the airport provides stable, well-paying jobs with an average full-time salary that’s more than 10 per cent higher than the provincial average.


There’s another dimension to the economic impact of the Ottawa International Airport. The individuals with jobs directly, indirectly or induced by the airport collectively pay more than $100 million in federal and provincial income taxes annually, supporting the important health care, education and social services valued by residents.

“Many Canadians incorrectly think that the nation’s major airports, like Ottawa, are government-run facilities spending taxpayer dollars to operate. In fact, the opposite is true. In 2017, the Ottawa Airport Authority paid the Federal Government over $9 million in rent and the City of Ottawa over $5 million dollars in the equivalent of municipal taxes,” says Laroche.

“The sum of the direct and indirect taxes paid to government, plus the overall positive economic impact to Ottawa-Gatineau substantiates the importance of YOW in the community, and that’s something we’re mindful of every day.”