Determinants of airport cost flexibility in a context of economic recession

J.C. Martín, H. Rodríguez-Déniz, A. Voltes-Dorta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The recent economic downturn led to a significant contraction in the global demand for air travel and cargo. In spite of that, airports' operating costs did not mirror the traffic trends and kept increasing during the same period, showing evident signs of lack of flexibility. With this background, this paper aims at identifying the drivers of airport cost flexibility in a context of economic recession. This is done by estimating a short-run stochastic cost frontier over a balanced pool database of 194 airports worldwide between 2007 and 2009. Using the total change in cost efficiency during the sample period as a proxy for cost flexibility, the impact of variables such as ownership, outsourcing, airline dominance, low-cost traffic, and revenue diversification is tested in a second-stage regression. Contrary to the existing literature, a higher level of outsourcing is shown to reduce cost flexibility. Results also indicate that low-cost traffic, diversification, and corporatization increase the airports' ability to control costs. The negative impact of airline dominance suggests the need for more stringent regulations on slot allocation at congested airports in order to ensure optimal infrastructure usage.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)70-84
Number of pages15
JournalTransportation Research Part E: Logistics and Transportation Review
Issue numbern/a
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2013


  • Airport cost function
  • Stochastic frontier
  • Cost flexibility
  • Outsourcing


Dive into the research topics of 'Determinants of airport cost flexibility in a context of economic recession'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this