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Operational efficiency versus financial mobility in the global airline industry: a data envelopment and Tobit analysis


  • Scheraga, Carl A.


The events of September 11th, 2001 precipitated an almost unprecedented financial crisis for the world airline industry. However, it is not clear that these events represent a discrete, industry disruption or whether, in fact, airlines were already entering a period of economic challenges that would demand new strategic orientations on their part. This study investigates the structural drivers of operational efficiency as well as the financial posture of airlines on the eve of September 11th. A sample of 38 airlines from North America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East was utilized to investigate whether relative operational efficiency implied superior financial mobility (as defined by Donaldson). Data envelopment analysis was utilized to derive efficiency scores for individual airlines. The underlying structural drivers of efficiency were then investigated. It was found that the traditional framework developed in the literature still provided reasonable explanatory power for realized relative operational efficiency. However, the second stage of the analysis found that relative operational efficiency did not inherently imply superior financial mobility. As such, airlines that had chosen relatively efficient operational strategies found themselves in positions of vulnerability with regard to financial mobility and thus suffered the consequences in the post-September 11th environment.

Suggested Citation

  • Scheraga, Carl A., 2004. "Operational efficiency versus financial mobility in the global airline industry: a data envelopment and Tobit analysis," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 38(5), pages 383-404, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:transa:v:38:y:2004:i:5:p:383-404

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Aigner, Dennis & Lovell, C. A. Knox & Schmidt, Peter, 1977. "Formulation and estimation of stochastic frontier production function models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1), pages 21-37, July.
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