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Airline Hubs: Costs, Markups and the Implications of Customer Heterogeneity

Author

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  • Steven Berry
  • Michael Carnall
  • Pablo T. Spiller

Abstract

This paper estimates a model of airline competition that captures the two major features of the industry: product differentiation and economies of density. The results not only provide support to some of the traditional common wisdom in the industry, but are also useful for understanding major puzzles concerning the evolution of the industry. The estimates indicate that a hubbing airline's ability to raise prices is focused on tickets that appeal to price-inelastic business travelers, who favor the origin-hub airline, even while paying an average premium of 20%. These high prices do not, however, provide a `monopoly umbrella' to other non-hub airlines. Finally, on the cost side there is evidence of economies of density (and therefore cost economies of hubbing) on longer routes. Consistent with the `Southwest Airlines' effect, there is no evidence of economies of density on shorter routes.

Suggested Citation

  • Steven Berry & Michael Carnall & Pablo T. Spiller, 1996. "Airline Hubs: Costs, Markups and the Implications of Customer Heterogeneity," NBER Working Papers 5561, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5561
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    7. Reiss, Peter C & Spiller, Pablo T, 1989. "Competition and Entry in Small Airline Markets," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 32(2), pages 179-202, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Forbes, Silke J., 2008. "The effect of air traffic delays on airline prices," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 26(5), pages 1218-1232, September.
    2. Nevo, Aviv, 2001. "Measuring Market Power in the Ready-to-Eat Cereal Industry," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(2), pages 307-342, March.
    3. Manez, J.A. & Waterson, M., 2001. "Multiproduct Firms and Product Differentiation: a Survey," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 594, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
    4. Bilotkach, Volodymyr & Fageda, Xavier & Flores-Fillol, Ricardo, 2010. "Scheduled service versus personal transportation: The role of distance," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 60-72, January.
    5. Philip G. Gayle, 2004. "Does Price Matter? Price and Non-price Competition in the Airline Industry," Econometric Society 2004 North American Summer Meetings 163, Econometric Society.
    6. Fageda, Xavier, 2014. "What hurts the dominant airlines at hub airports?," Transportation Research Part E: Logistics and Transportation Review, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 177-189.
    7. Aguirregabiria, Victor & Ho, Chun-Yu, 2012. "A dynamic oligopoly game of the US airline industry: Estimation and policy experiments," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 168(1), pages 156-173.
    8. repec:eee:transa:v:103:y:2017:i:c:p:444-454 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Bilotkach, Volodymyr & Gorodnichenko, Yuriy & Talavera, Oleksandr, 2010. "Are airlines' price-setting strategies different?," Journal of Air Transport Management, Elsevier, vol. 16(1), pages 1-6.
    10. Bilotkach, Volodymyr, 2007. "Complementary versus semi-complementary airline partnerships," Transportation Research Part B: Methodological, Elsevier, vol. 41(4), pages 381-393, May.
    11. Mark G. Lijesen & Piet Rietveld & Peter Nijkamp, 2000. "Do European Carriers dominate their Hubs?," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 00-071/3, Tinbergen Institute.
    12. Steven Berry & James Levinsohn & Ariel Pakes, 2004. "Differentiated Products Demand Systems from a Combination of Micro and Macro Data: The New Car Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(1), pages 68-105, February.
    13. Federico Ciliberto & Jonathan W. Williams, 2010. "Limited Access to Airport Facilities and Market Power in the Airline Industry," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 53(3), pages 467-495.
    14. Genakos, Christos D., 2004. "Differential merger effects: the case of the personal computer industry," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 6726, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    15. Brueckner, Jan K. & Goebel, Anton & Niskanen, Esko, 1997. "Airline Deregulation: The American Experience and Prospects for Europe," Discussion Papers 149, VATT Institute for Economic Research.
    16. Ofelia Betancor & Juan Luis Jiménez, 2011. "When trains go faster than planes: the strategic reaction of airlines in Spain," ERSA conference papers ersa11p295, European Regional Science Association.
    17. Lijesen, Mark G. & Rietveld, Piet & Nijkamp, Peter, 2001. "Hub premiums in European civil aviation," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 193-199, July.
    18. Oliver Richard, 2000. "An Empirical Analysis of Marketing Alliances Between Major US Airlines," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1770, Econometric Society.
    19. Austan Goolsbee & David B. Gross, 1997. "Estimating Adjustment Costs with Data on Heterogeneous Capital Goods," NBER Working Papers 6342, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    20. Ciliberto, Federico & Williams, Jonathan, 2010. "Does Multimarket Contact Facilitate Tacit Collusion? Inference on Conjectural Parameters in the Airline Industry," MPRA Paper 24888, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    21. Judith Chevalier & Austan Goolsbee, 2005. "Are Durable Goods Consumers Forward Looking? Evidence from College Textbooks," NBER Working Papers 11421, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    22. Oliveira, Alessandro V.M, 2003. "The Impacts Of Liberalisation On A Brazilian Air Shuttle Market," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 676, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
    23. Aydemir, Resul, 2012. "Threat of market entry and low cost carrier competition," Journal of Air Transport Management, Elsevier, vol. 23(C), pages 59-62.
    24. Claudio Agostini, 2005. "El Mercado de Transporte Aéreo: Lecciones para Chile de una Revisión de la Literatura," ILADES-Georgetown University Working Papers inv163, Ilades-Georgetown University, Universidad Alberto Hurtado/School of Economics and Bussines.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • L11 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms
    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets

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