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Limited access to airport facilities and market power in the airline industry

Ciliberto, Federico and Williams, Jonathan (2010): Limited access to airport facilities and market power in the airline industry. Published in: Journal of Law and Economics , Vol. 53, No. 3 (15 August 2010): pp. 467-495.

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We investigate the role of limited access to airport facilities as a determinant of the hub premium in the U.S. airline industry. We use original data from competition plans that airports are required to submit to the U.S. Department of Transportation in compliance with the Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the Twenty-First Century. We collect information on the availability and control of airport gates, leasing arrangements, and other restrictions limiting the expansion of airport facilities. We find that the hub premium is increasing in the ticket fare. We find that control of gates is a crucial determinant of this premium. Limits on the fees that airlines can charge for subleasing their gates lower the prices charged by airlines. Finally, control of gates and restrictions on sublease fees explain high fares only when there is a scarcity of gates relative to the number of departures from an airport.

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