Date of Award

Fall 11-1996

Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Business Administration in Aviation


Aviation Business Administration

Committee Chair

Abe Harraf

Committee Member

Bijan Vasigh

Committee Member

Craig Jackson


The purpose of this research is to investigate how income, population age, scheduled air carrier services, and distance between competing airports impact annual scheduled passenger enplanements for airports in smaller communities. Small airports located within a 120 miles radius of larger sized (medium or large) airports are considered to be within the "shadow" of larger airports with which they must compete for passenger enplanements.

Two methods were employed to evaluate shadow airports within a 120 mile radius of larger airports. First, an historical view, analyzing each of the airports with regard to schedule passenger enplanements, median disposable incomes, median ages, and distances between competing air passenger cities was completed. Comparisons were done over a 13 year period from 1980 to 1993 and an average annual growth rate was computed for all the airports dependent and independent variables. The next step was to pinpoint those small airports experiencing declining enplanements. Following this process, eight airports were singled out with declining trends. Six of the eight airports were found to be within an hour's driving time of a larger airport. The remaining two were nearer to a two hour drive. Notably, the southeastern region of the United States accounted for half of the shadow airports experiencing declines.

Also of significance, when comparing all other shadow airports to these declining airports revealed that the overall group grew 2 1/2 times faster than the eight cited. Additionally, their competing large airport counterparts when compared to their larger airport overall peer group grew twice as fast, suggesting that market share is being transferred from the shadow airports to their nearby competing airports.

Second, a double log multiple regression model was developed. The final results suggest that this model's independent variables account for 12.45% of the enplanements at the small/shadow airports. The outcome indicated that these independent variables—median disposable income, median age, and distance between air passenger cities were statistically significant at 95% and support the null hypothesis which states that there is a relationship between small air passenger city's median disposable income, median population age, competing airports scheduled passenger enplanements, and distance from small air passenger city to the larger air passenger city. The independent variable, enplanements at the larger airport, was not as strong statistically and fell within a confidence level of 88%. Enplanements at the large hub were included in an attempt to measure the impact of increasing growth at the large airports on its smaller competitors.