Is it the labor unions' fault? Dissecting the causes of the impaired technical efficiencies of the legacy carriers in the United States

Data envelopment analysis is used to evaluate the technical efficiencies of a number of major passenger airlines in the United States at transforming their inputs (labor, fuel and fleet-wide seating capacity) into available seat-miles. A tobit regression model is then used to identify the underlying drivers of airline efficiency, as measured by the data envelopment analysis efficiency score. The impact of unionization on airline efficiency is found to be statistically insignificant, controlling for the influences of other hypothesized determinants of airline efficiency: the average age of an airline's fleet, the average size of its aircraft, its average stage length, the extent to which the airline relies of hubbing within its route structure, the percent of its passenger enplanements that are international, and whether the airline is a legacy carrier. The statistically significant drivers of airline efficiency, at a ten percent level of significance, are average aircraft size, average stage length and the extent to which the airline relies on hubbing and connecting flights within its route structure. The stage length variable is not significant at a five percent level of significance, however. An increase in average aircraft size or in average stage length enhances an airline's efficiency whereas an increase in hubbing reduces it.


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  • Accession Number: 01146482
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Nov 24 2009 11:51AM