The Economics of Airport Operations: Volume 6

Cover of The Economics of Airport Operations
Subject:

Table of contents

(17 chapters)

Prelims

Pages i-xiii
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Introduction

Pages 1-14
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Abstract

The concept of light-handed regulation, including light-handed approaches to the regulation of airport services, is discussed. The rationale for the economic regulation of airport services and the traditional approaches used for economic regulation of airport charges are summarized. The evolution of international practice of light-handed regulation is outlined, including the experience with minimal regulation across monopoly industries in New Zealand and the acceptance of “negotiated settlements” in utility industries in North America. General reasons for moving to light-handed regulation of airports include the disadvantages of the price cap approach in practice and the benefits of facilitating greater negotiation between airports and users. Comparisons are made between alternative approaches to light-handed regulation of airport services, including price and quality of service monitoring, information disclosure regulation and negotiate-arbitrate regulation, approaches that have been applied to airport services in Australia and New Zealand. The role and nature of the incentives under each approach are discussed. The chapter concludes that whether light-handed regulation provides a suitable alternative approach to direct regulation depends on the market circumstances and the design characteristics of the light-handed approach.

Abstract

Airport economics literature has recently included the supply of concession services among the factors that might affect airport pricing. In particular, there is only little empirical analysis on whether: (i) the supply of airport concession services can stimulate the demand for travel (two-side complementarity) and (ii) the demand for airport concession services is independent of traveling activities (welfare neutrality). In this chapter, we survey papers that have addressed two-side complementarity and welfare neutrality in airport concessions. Our goal is to discuss the different assumptions that have shaped the models and to collect evidences, facts and empirical findings that may support analytical hypotheses. We argue that the notions of two-side complementarity and welfare neutrality might be interrelated – especially when airports invest in concessions in the area accessible to non-passengers. Welfare gains should be assessed on a case by case basis, depending on the type of airport in terms of ownership, size (and the relative mass of connecting passengers compared to origin–destination passengers), and the source of concession revenues. Our arguments might be particularly relevant to policy makers who need to understand (i) whether the supply of concessions reduces or increases the benefits of airport (aviation) price regulation and (ii) whether the effective control of market power may require the regulation of the prices of both the businesses.

Abstract

In this chapter, we estimate the allocative efficiency of Spanish airports in the pre-privatization period from 2009 until 2014. The estimation of an input-oriented distance system of equations allows us to calculate different allocative efficiency measures using two approaches. The results show that allocative inefficiencies exist for Spanish airports during this period. Moreover, in breaking down allocative efficiency changes by periods coinciding with different government strategies of privatization, we find important differences. In the initial period, when the government encouraged decentralized management of airports and privatization of the largest airports, allocative efficiency improved (from 2009 to 2012). In the second period, however, when the government focused on centralized airport management and privatization of the system as a whole (from 2012 to 2014), inefficiencies slightly increased again.

Abstract

With significant changes in the aviation industry, various airport–airline arrangements have been formed to achieve alternative objectives. However, no consensus has been reached on such arrangements’ economic effects and the associated optimal public policy. This chapter aims to provide an interpretive review of the common types of airport–airline arrangements, the different modeling approaches used and key conclusions reached by recent studies. Our review suggests that airport–airline arrangements can take diverse forms and have been widely used in the industry. They may allow the airport and its airlines to internalize demand externality, increase traffic volume, reduce airport investment risks and costs, promote capacity investment, enhance service quality, or simply are a response to the competition from other airport–airline chains. On the other hand, such vertical arrangements, especially for those exclusively between airports and selected airlines, could lead to collusive outcomes at the expenses of non-participating organizations. The effects of such arrangements are also significantly influenced by the contract type, market structure and bargaining power between the airport and airline sectors. While case by case investigations are often needed for important economic decisions, we recommend policy-makers to promote competition in the airline and airport segments whenever possible, and demand more transparency or regulatory reporting of such arrangements. Policy debates and economic studies should be carried out first, before intrusive regulations are introduced.

Abstract

The relationship between airports and airlines is very interesting from an economics perspective, and analysis of this relationship is wide open for new research endeavors. For instance, airport and airline interactions can be viewed as a zero-sum game of deciding, say, airport landing charges, while at the same time both entities have an incentive making a joint effort to enhance their ability to generate passenger demand and to contribute to growing regional economies. Within this theoretical framework, their relationship consists of not only a binary choice of conflict or cooperation, but also suggests the possibility of complex mixtures of conflict and cooperation. While understanding the interdependence of airports and airlines is an important issue in transportation economics, research examining the complexity of airport and airline relationships is relatively new to the field. This chapter contributes to this research area, in part, by introducing one very interesting example of an airport and airline relationship that considers an element of conflict and cooperation. Specifically, this chapter examines the economic consequences of a risk sharing contract. Analysis of the risk sharing contract recognizes the relevance of microeconomic theories, such as contract theory and principal–agent theory and reveals how these concepts can be applied to traditional transport economics. Predictions of risk sharing between airlines and airports using these theories are derived using numerical examples. Findings reveal that the risk-sharing agreement based on the Noto Airport Load Factor Guarantee Mechanism (LFGM) contract enables the airport side and the airline side not only to share the monetary consequences of demand fluctuation, but also to secure air flights from a local airport to Tokyo, to jointly enhance their various demand-inducing efforts, and to increase their utilities in order to meet the common target they set in the contract. With the LFGM contract, both sides have consistently maintained the air transport network in a relatively low demand area for more than 10 years without significant outside financial assistance. The findings from this chapter also contribute to better understanding the complex relationships among aviation entities, to the recognition of importance and potential to design properly the airport and airline contract, and to the advancement of economic and public policy analysis of this sector.

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Abstract

It is demonstrated how an analysis of airports’ cost structures and the calculation of long-run marginal costs (MCs) of serving passengers and airplanes can be used as a basis for setting airport charges according to the principles of welfare economics. Based on Norwegian data, the MC for an extra passenger (PAX) and extra air traffic movement (ATM) are used to set airport charges under the assumption that the charges should be equal for all airports in the country. When adjusting the estimates to meet revenue restrictions and comparing the estimates to current charges, we observe that PAX should be charged more and ATM less. This finding is in line with recommendations from the International Air Transport Association (IATA). When allowing charges to vary between airports, we demonstrate how a Ramsey pricing approach can be applied to set differentiated PAX and ATM charges, considering both the supply side (the competitive conditions between the airlines operating at the airports) and the demand side (the passengers’ price elasticity of demand).

Abstract

This chapter examines the main methodological issues involved in the comprehension of the cost structure of the airport industry and suggests considerations for future airport cost analyses. Such understanding has become a crucial concern for policy makers, regional planners, and managers in order to deal with optimal market design (e.g., regulation and market configuration) and airport strategies (e.g., pricing, investments, and alliances). An in-depth analysis of the economics of cost functions is presented, together with a description of the relevant multi-output cost economies measures (average incremental costs, scale and scope economies, and cost complementarities). We also discuss the assumptions underlying estimates of total versus variable cost functions and the importance of estimating a sufficiently flexible functional form. Moreover, we provide a critical survey of the international empirical literature on the cost structure of the airport industry, which highlights how econometric estimates strongly depend on the sample choice and the empirical model considered. Indeed, while econometric studies on international samples based on long-run cost function estimates show that long-run scale economies are never exhausted, single country studies mostly estimate variable cost functions and find lower values for scale economies at median sample points that tend to decrease with size. We discuss why we believe that studies based on the estimation of short-run variable cost functions offer more reliable results, given the reasonable assumption of airport overcapitalization in the short run. We conclude our work by noting that underlying policy issues related to planning and regulation, as well as to the optimal market structure of the airport sector, need to take into account the role played by vertical relationships between airports and airlines.

Abstract

A substantial part of airports’ revenues relates to charges covering the costs of services supplied by the airport. Charges are imposed on carriers, which in turn pass them or a percentage of them, on to passengers. In the present chapter, special attention is given to regional airports characterized by low traffic volumes, enabling only one or a few carriers to serve each destination. A classic economic model is presented to analyze how the pass-on rate depends on supply and demand characteristics and market structure. Some illustrative examples assuming combinations of common specifications for market characteristics are also presented, showing pass-on rates ranging from 50% to more than 100%. Consequently, market structure and characteristics of carriers and passengers are decisive for how passengers experience changes in airport charges. The differences between the optimal charge from the perspectives of the airport and the welfare of society are specifically addressed. It is demonstrated that knowledge of the pass-on rate in the monopoly cases may be sufficient to infer how the mark-up will be affected by a change in marginal costs. Consequently, the understanding of the pass-on rate is relevant for airport owners and for decision-makers when considering the welfare of passengers and other politically stated goals.

Abstract

Airports and urban developments in their vicinity constitute a highly specialized type of agglomeration based on air connectivity that epitomizes the importance of mobility in the modern service economy. However, in a frictionless world of backyard capitalism and perfect competition, such agglomeration of civil aviation services would not have been necessary. Thus, concepts such as imperfect markets, path dependence, and cumulative causation may be alternatively used to explain the spatial aspects of airport developments. Focusing on “second-nature” concentration, the “new geographical economics” (NGE) literature offers a potential theoretical framework that organizes these concepts into a coherent economic framework. This chapter aims to highlight the unique relevance of the NGE approach in developing an economics-based understanding of the spatial distribution of airports. Drawing from the existing NGE knowledge-base, this conceptual chapter explains that the NGE approach can be adopted as a micro-foundation to show how the spatial aspects of airport development, including core-periphery dynamics of regional disparity and parity, can emerge from economic mechanisms. The chapter concludes with potential implications for airport economics and regional policy, along with the discussion of some of the main critiques of the theory.

Abstract

This chapter examines the effects that airports have had on economic development in cities from 1950 to 2010. It uses a novel dataset consisting of previously unexploited data on the origins and history of the aviation system in the United States. Applying the method of synthetic controls to a set of medium and small airports, I examine both the overall impacts and the heterogeneity within the outcomes of various airports. Then, I use regression analysis to determine key factors differentiating successful airports from less successful ones, as it pertains particularly to population and employment growth. I find that, first, on average, cities have benefited from airports over this period. Airports, overall, provided a causal contribution of 0.2– 0.6% per year on population and employment growth over the time period. Second, I show that city-level factors contributing to airport success include: (1) closer proximity to a major research university, (2) a capital city location, and (3) climate factors, particularly higher January mean temperatures and/or hours of sunshine. City size is a consideration as well; cities in larger metropolitan areas, with larger shares of employment in nontradables in the 1950s, were also better positioned to reap the benefits that airports provided on city growth. Significant differences were not found across regions, airport governance structures, or other factors.

Abstract

Airports are the portals where international air transport networks, which are increasingly important in a globalized, services-oriented economy, intersect with regional and metropolitan ground transportation networks. Our hypothesis is that, at this nexus, the degree of international connectivity at an airport and distance from the airport manifests itself in the value of commercial properties. As such airports are shaping the urban form around them and highlight the importance of integrated metropolitan and airport planning. Looking at Canada’s two largest international airports at Toronto, Ontario and Vancouver, BC, and controlling for other factors, we see evidence that commercial properties decrease in value as distance to the airport increases and increase in value as the range of international frequencies and destinations available at the airport increase. We introduce a new concept of land-use at and around airports of “aviation-dependent” which would include hotels and corporate head offices, in addition to the traditional “aviation-related” and “aviation-compatible” uses. We see the effects of distance and connectivity are particularly pronounced on commercial properties occupied by aviation-dependent uses.

Abstract

We investigate the relationship between airline network structure and airport congestion. More specifically, we study the ways in which airlines adjust capacity to delays depending on the network type they operate. We find some evidence suggesting that airlines operating hub-and-spoke structures react less to delays than airlines operating fully connected configurations. In particular, network airlines have incentives to keep frequency high even if this is at the expense of a greater congestion at their hub airports. We also show that airlines in slot-constrained airports seem to react to higher levels of congestion by using bigger aircraft at lower frequencies; thus, we conclude that conditioning the number of available slots on the levels of delays at the airport seems an effective measure that creates the right incentives for airlines to reduce the congestion they generate.

Abstract

In the last decades, low-cost carriers (LCCs) have generated several changes in the air market for both passengers and airports. Mainly for regional airports, LCCs have represented an important opportunity to improve their connectivity levels and passenger traffic. Furthermore, many regional airports have become key factors to regenerate the local economy by improving accessibility and stimulating several markets, such as tourism. However, the relationship between LCCs and airports is rather complex and the outcomes not always predictable. In order to analyze and understand better such relationship and its outcomes, this chapter discusses the main underlying factors identified in: relation with the regional air market (secondary/primary airports), balance of power (dominated/non-dominated airports), and industrial organization (bases/non-bases). Starting from the proposed Relative Closeness Index, which combines yearly airport passengers and distance between airport pairs, a large sample of European airports is analyzed. Then, a smaller sub-sample – which includes selected, significant case studies referring to mid-sized airports – is discussed in detail. Among the main findings, airports sharing their catchment area with others are in a very risky position, due to the potential mobility of LCCs, while geographically isolated airports in good catchment areas can better counterbalance the power of carriers.

Abstract

The connectivity provided by full-service network carriers under the umbrella of airline alliances is increasingly challenged by the services of Middle Eastern airlines via their own hubs, and the rise of new passenger strategies like self-connectivity. While these two developments can potentially benefit consumers with more services and lower fares, the rise of Middle East carriers has been met with opposition by EU and US airlines that call for increased protectionism. In addition, only a few airports in the world actively support self-connections. In this context, this study aims to investigate (1) the markets in which Middle East carriers exert a stronger dominance in terms of the number of passenger connections, (2) whether EU, US, or Asian hubs provide a competitive quality of connectivity in terms of travel time, and (3) whether a significant potential for self-connections is hidden at major airports worldwide. To that end, several datasets of passenger bookings (MIDT), airline schedules, and minimum connecting times between 2012 and 2015 are combined in a connections-building methodology that delivers six market-specific airport connectivity indicators for our benchmarking exercise. Our findings show that although European and some Asian hubs have lost traffic in global markets, they remain competitive from a quality perspective. US hubs have maintained their market share and competitive position. Finally, we identify the airports and airlines with the highest potential to provide self-connecting travel options, which can become an attractive new source of revenue for the parties involved.

Index

Pages 425-441
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Cover of The Economics of Airport Operations
DOI
10.1108/S2212-160920176
Publication date
2017-09-12
Book series
Advances in Airline Economics
Editors
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-1-78714-498-9
eISBN
978-1-78714-497-2
Book series ISSN
2212-1609