An interesting article in USA Today last week, Feds keep little-used airports in business, brings to light billions of dollars in tax revenue generated every single year and spent on airports.  Although this very interesting article explains how billions of dollars each year are collected from taxed airline travels, what is so interesting is the number of airports that receive this revenue.  There are close to 3,000 airports nationwide, 2,834 to be exact,  and although we only hear and know about a handful of public commercial airports, this revenue is split across all of them.

The article alone  is a great piece of work.  With lots of data it presents quite a compelling case about how much money is spent to cater to a select wealthy class of plane owners. And while this is happening major commercial airports continue to suffer from tons of congestion and delays.  We are talking about billions of dollars in taxes collected from plane travelers.  The article estimates that each plane ticket is taxed approximately 15% or about $30 on a typical $200 plane ticket. And in the meantime major commercial airports continue to suffer from heavy congestion and delays.

An Interactive Map Makes a Compelling Case Stronger

Now as compelling as all this data is, it was looking through the interactive map associated with the article that really blew me away.  View the Intertactive Airport Map.  The map lets you turn airports on and off based on categories, and when you start to add multiple categories beyond the thirty-one major U.S. airports you quickly get a cluttered mess.  We’re talking about THOUSANDS of airports! You can also roll your mouse over any airport to get some detailed information such as:

  • Airport name
  • Airport location
  • Annual takeoffs and landings
  • Number of grants received
  • Total monetary amount given

Interactive Airport Map

When you start looking at the major airports, the amount of traffic they get, and the comparison in dollar amounts given to its regional neighbors the numbers definitely don’t line up.  This map is a perfect example of a story presenting a compelling case that is instantly made much more compelling by visually showing what the numbers mean.

I think the real takeaway from this map is how an article with lots of statistics and data can simply go over the head of the reader.  Visitors can view the map and take a closer look at their local airports, which shows them how relevant this information really is.  As they continue to click around to other local airports and are able to see where their dollars are going, the light bulb of clarity instantly goes off.