Overseas international flights at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) contributed $82.1 billion to the economy of Southern California last year, according to a new study conducted by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC), a “business leadership organization.”

Flights at LAX created 363,700 direct and indirect jobs with annual wages of $19.3 billion in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego and Ventura Counties in 2006, according to the study.

Over the course of 2006, an average transoceanic flight traveling round-trip from LAX every day added $623 million in economic output and sustained 3,120 direct and indirect jobs in Southern California with $156 million in wages, the study found.

The figures were calculated from the production and transportation of freight exports, the transportation of freight imports, the operation of the airport itself, and the purchases made by international visitors on the flights.

Freight exports accounted for over 80 percent of the annual economic activity generated by international flights at LAX, according to the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation.

But despite these figures, officials of the corporation said the total economic impact could have been higher.

The study reported that LAX lost market share relative to competitor airports, measured as the percentage of all passengers on non-stop transoceanic flights to the United States who arrived at LAX between 2000 and 2006.

If the airport’s market share had held steady at its 2000 level, LAX would have had about nine more daily transoceanic flights in 2006. The additional flights would have added up to $5.6 billion more in economic output, and up to 28,100 direct and indirect jobs with annual wages of $1.4 billion, according to the study.

Market trends suggest LAX could receive 11 new daily transoceanic flights by 2012. The economic gains to Southern California would be (in 2007 dollars) up to $6.9 billion in additional regional economic output, along with up to 34,300 direct and indirect jobs and $1.7 billion in total wages, the study said.

“The study shows that LAX is not only the region’s front door for tourists visiting the region, but it’s also the loading dock where local businesses ship their goods to the rest of the world,” said Greg Freeman, vice president of Economic and Policy Consulting for the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation.

“More than 80 percent of the economic impact of overseas flights at LAX is generated by firms that take advantage of the international flights to export their goods.”

Bill Allen, president and chief executive officer of the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation, added, “This report is a real eye-opener for those concerned with job creation and retention throughout Southern California.

“With manufacturing, international trade, and tourism being the largest employment sectors in Los Angeles County, it is clear that LAX plays a powerful role in the overall economy of the entire region.”