Date of Award

Spring 3-27-2024

Access Type

Dissertation - ERAU Login Required

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Aviation Business Administration


Business Administration

Committee Chair

Farshid Azadian

First Committee Member

Bijan Vasigh

Second Committee Member

Hari Adhikari


COVID-19 had a devastating impact on the airline industry. During the pandemic, the continued and, to some extent, growing air cargo demand kept many airlines afloat. According to the International Airport Association, the pandemic devastated the aviation industry. Cessation of travel and border closures hinder the airlines’ primary cash source - passenger transportation revenues. Combination carriers, carriers with Dedicated Freighter Airplanes (DFAs), started developing innovative solutions to utilize their fleets to benefit from the heightened air cargo demand during the pandemic. This study studies global combination carriers’ operational and scale efficiency before, during, and after the COVID-19 pandemic. The study used the DEA, window analysis, and Malmquist Productivity Index methodologies to assess global combination carriers’ operational and scale efficiency from 2018 to 2021. The result shows how certain airline strategic decisions allow them to face the pandemic-imposed challenges and convert them into growth opportunities. The results also suggest that air cargo operational efficiency does not primarily depend on the number of bases the airline operates from, the air cargo generated from its base, or the number of DFAs in the fleet. Indeed, these factors support the operation; however, the increase in these factors does not necessarily translate into better operational or scale efficiencies. It is rather a strategic deployment of resources that leads to the airline’s success. The results also show that airlines focus on their internal efficiency when the industry productivity is not increasing.