The Economics of International Airline Transport: Volume 4

Cover of The Economics of International Airline Transport

Table of contents

(19 chapters)
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Abstract

This chapter reviews the effects of air transport liberalization, and investigates the roles played by airport-airline vertical arrangements in liberalizing markets. Our investigation concludes that liberalization has led to substantial economic and traffic growth. Such positive outcomes are mainly due to increased competition and efficiency gains in the airline industry, and positive externalities to the overall economy. Liberalization allows airlines to optimize their networks, and thus may introduce substantial demand and financial uncertainty to airports. Vertical arrangements between airlines and airports may offer a wide range of benefits to the parties involved, yet such arrangements could also lead to airline entry barriers which reduce the effects of liberalization. Three approaches have been developed to model the effects of liberalization in complex market conditions, which include the analytical, econometric and computational network methods. These approaches should be selectively utilized in policy studies on liberalization.

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This chapter examines the unique regulatory environment that trans-border air carriers work within. Using a U.S. perspective the concept of the bilateral air agreement is outlined and discussed. These agreements form the basis for how two countries decide to share their airspaces among their air carriers. The trend has been toward more liberal approaches. To explain this trend the concepts of the Freedoms of the Air and Open Skies are discussed. Other liberalization programs are also discussed; specifically, co-terminalization and cabotage. Finally, the air cargo transfer operations at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport are used as an example to highlight a rare example of unilateral liberalization on the part of the United States.

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In spite of the extensive literature on the regulation of air transport services, until the development of the Quantitative Air Services Agreements Review (QUASAR) methodology no systematic review existed of the degree of liberalization granted through air services agreements. The chapter lays out QUASARs key features, and presents the main results its application has generated. It then elaborates on how the methodology could be further refined and extended to other segments of the air transport industry yet uncovered. Based on QUASAR, the chapter critically evaluates some commonly held beliefs about the liberalization of international passenger transport and then moves on to explore the technical feasibility of creating a liberal multilateral regime for air transport services. QUASAR has demonstrated that, although the air transport sector has experienced some liberalization over the past few years, this has been, overall, rather marginal. The skies are not truly open.

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Mergers and acquisitions in the transportation sector are typically explained as attempts to capture economies of scale and scope through shared infrastructure and related cost-saving measures. In the airline industry, the past 15 years have seen an increasing number of international mergers and acquisitions that would have been blocked under prior regulatory regimes. This activity suggests that there are indeed gains from increasing airline size.

Such gains may be largely financial in nature. One benefit to a merged airline could be greater market power over particular routes and hubs after merger, as well as improved contract structure and bargaining power in operations, although greater de-regulation and more competition internationally makes these arguments less compelling. In many cases, gains may be unique to specific airlines or operational situations. Thus, the issue addressed in this chapter is whether, in general, increasing the size or scope of airline operations enables them to function more efficiently and whether this effect is sustained across all sizes of airline. More pointedly, the chapter examines whether there exist measurable efficiency gains that can help explain the variety of mergers and acquisitions in the industry.

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This chapter uses airline data on fares, traffic, and flight characteristics to estimate a series of fare equations for international flights. The results are used to examine the role of international competition as a determinant of fares along international flights originating or departing from the United States. Findings suggest that actual and potential competition are important determinants of international airfares. We interpret these results as indicating that pricing behavior along US–international routes is consistent with the theory of imperfect contestability.

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This chapter estimates the demand for flights in an international air travel market using a unique dataset with detailed information not only on flight choices but also on contemporaneous prices and characteristics of all the alternative non-booked flights. The estimation strategy employs a simple discrete choice random utility model that we use to analyze how choices and its response to prices depend on the departing airport, the identity of the carrier, and the departure date and time. The results show that a 10% increase in prices in a 100-seat aircraft throughout a 100-period selling season decreases quantity demanded by 7.7 seats. We also find that the quantity demanded is more responsive to prices for Delta and American, during morning and evening flights and that the response to prices changes significantly over different departure dates.

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The use of air cargo by low-income countries and the effects of freight charges on their export flows are described. This is accomplished by illustrating the difference between export flows from developing countries of perishable products and high-tech goods. Descriptive statistics are used to highlight the importance of trade that travels by air from these countries to the United States and the European Union. Subsequently, costs of air freight are estimated. A gravity model of trade measures the effect of these costs on export flows. Major institutional and regulatory constraints that may be halting additional trade that relies on air transportation, and the implications for economic growth, are identified.

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During the last few decades, rising intra-regional volumes of trade as well as air passenger traffic have been key characteristics of Asia-Pacific’s economic development. Although conceptual and empirical linkages between rising levels of trade and air passenger flows are often assumed, relatively little is known about the potential causality in these parallels. In this chapter, we seek to empirically uncover this causality through the application of heterogeneous Time Series Cross Section Granger causality analysis for the period 1980–2010. Four scenarios are found amongst the different country-pairs: (1) there is no co-evolution, implying that both patterns develop independently (e.g. Japan–Australia); (2) there is ‘real’ co-evolution in that both patterns influence each other through feedback loops (e.g. South Korea–Philippines); (3) air passenger traffic is facilitated by trade (e.g., South Korea–Philippines); or (4) trade is facilitated by air passenger traffic (e.g. Australia–Malaysia). Some possible interpretations of this heterogeneity are discussed.

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This chapter provides an overview of the current political regulations on aviation’s climate relevant emissions in Europe, Australia, and New Zealand and of the planned regulations in other parts of the world. In a next step, the cost impacts of most of these regulations on air freight will be quantified. This way, the economic impacts of environmental regulations on air freight can be estimated.

The main results indicate that cost impacts on air freight services induced by political measures for the reduction of aviation’s climate relevant emissions turn out to be small. This is true for both local emission charges on nitrous oxide (NO X ) and hydrocarbon (HC) emissions which are in force at a number of European airports and the European emissions trading scheme for the limitation of CO2 emissions.

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Commercial aviation continues to grow but few passenger or cargo journeys begin or end at airports. “Terminal” and “last” mile costs can place considerable drag on interregional trade in goods and services, attenuating growth and prosperity. The aerotropolis model provides a holistic framework for understanding – and addressing – trade costs. The central tenets of the aerotropolis model are outlined and extended by considering the decision to establish a new business facility. Implications are drawn for planning a competitive aerotropolis as the global economy enters a new era.

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Airline travel is composed of business and nonbusiness travelers, each with different preferences that give rise to differences in demand elasticities and substitution not only across airlines but also airports. In this study, we develop and estimate a model of airline wherein consumers choose which airports and airline to use that allows for unobserved differences between travelers (e.g., business and nonbusiness travelers). The results point to the role that airports themselves play in the ultimate selection of a flight, and that there are strong interactive effects between the airlines’ networks and the consumers’ preferences across airports.

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Platforms in two-sided markets are known to provide subsidies to either buyers or sellers, in order to take advantage of cross-group externalities inherent in such industries. Online travel agents can be thought of as platforms facilitating trade between passengers and travel service providers (airlines). This chapter evaluates the effects of a buyer subsidy provided by one major US online travel agent – a low-price guarantee offered by Orbitz. We find evidence consistent with increased airline participation with this travel agent upon implementation of the low-price guarantee policy. Our results also confirm the theoretical claims that most-favored customer low-price guarantee policies are procompetitive.

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Cover of The Economics of International Airline Transport
DOI
10.1108/S2212-160920144
Publication date
2014-08-06
Book series
Advances in Airline Economics
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-1-78350-639-2
Book series ISSN
2212-1609