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Tracing the Woes: An Empirical Analysis of the Airline Industry

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  • Steven Berry
  • Panle Jia

Abstract

The U.S. airline industry went through tremendous turmoil in the early 2000's. There were four major bankruptcies and two major mergers, with all legacy carriers reporting a large profit reduction. This paper presents a structural model of the airline industry, and estimates the impact of demand and supply changes on profitability. We find that, compared with the late 1990s, in 2006, a) air-travel demand was 8% more price sensitive; b) passengers displayed a strong preference for direct flights, and the connection semi-elasticity was 17% higher; c) the changes of marginal cost significantly favored direct flights. These findings are present in all the specifications we estimated. Together with the expansion of low cost carriers, they explained more than 80% of the decrease in legacy carriers' variable profits.

Suggested Citation

  • Steven Berry & Panle Jia, 2008. "Tracing the Woes: An Empirical Analysis of the Airline Industry," NBER Working Papers 14503, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14503
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • L0 - Industrial Organization - - General
    • L1 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance
    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets
    • L91 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Transportation: General
    • L93 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Air Transportation

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