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Flight delays, capacity investment and social welfare under air transport supply-demand equilibrium

  • Zou, Bo
  • Hansen, Mark
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    This paper analyzes benefits from aviation infrastructure investment under competitive supply-demand equilibrium. The analysis recognizes that, in the air transportation system where economies of density is an inherent characteristic, capacity change would trigger a complicated set of adjustment of and interplay among passenger demand, air fare, flight frequency, aircraft size, and flight delays, leading to an equilibrium shift. An analytical model that incorporates these elements is developed. The results from comparative static analysis show that capacity constraint suppresses demand, reduces flight frequency, and increases passenger generalized cost. Our numerical analysis further reveals that, by switching to larger aircraft size, airlines manage to offset part of the delay effect on unit operating cost, and charge passengers lower fare. With higher capacity, airlines tend to raise both fare and frequency while decreasing aircraft size. More demand emerges in the market, with reduced generalized cost for each traveler. The marginal benefit brought by capacity expansion diminishes as the capacity-demand imbalance becomes less severe. Existing passengers in the market receive most of the benefit, followed by airlines. The welfare gains from induced demand are much smaller. The equilibrium approach yields more plausible investment benefit estimates than does the conventional method. In particular, when forecasting future demand the equilibrium approach is capable of preventing the occurrence of excessive high delays.

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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice.

    Volume (Year): 46 (2012)
    Issue (Month): 6 ()
    Pages: 965-980

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:transa:v:46:y:2012:i:6:p:965-980
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    1. Jan Brueckner & Ricardo Flores-Fillol, 2007. "Airline Schedule Competition," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer, vol. 30(3), pages 161-177, May.
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