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Airport privatization in congested hub–spoke networks

Transportation Research Part B Methodological
DOI: 10.1016/j.trb.2013.03.011
  • Airport Privatization
  • Hub–Spoke Network
  • Frequency Externalities
  • Cost-Recovery Constraint
  • Political Science


Abstract This paper investigates the airport privatization issue. One congested hub and two linked local airports serve symmetric hub carriers. Passengers valuate the congestion delay cost and benefit from greater frequencies. The government considers privatizing either the hub or local airports. We find that in each privatizing scenario, welfare-maximizing public airport(s) set a charge below their operating costs in order to fully coordinate the high charge of privatized airport(s). If this fiscal deficit is not allowed, each scenario causes distortion. Interestingly, the distortion—and hence welfare losses—in privatizing a hub are smaller (larger) than those in privatizing both local airports when both passengers’ valuations are small (large); this is exactly the case when privatized local airports are strategic substitutes (complements). We also surprisingly find that retaining the hub airport as public and privatizing one or both local airports achieves the same market outcomes. We further find that if all airports are privatized, welfare becomes worse than the other scenarios; the hub airport charges lower (higher) prices than local airports when both local airports are strategic substitutes (complements).

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