UBC Sauder School Of Business Professor Releases Performance Benchmark Survey On World’s Leading Airports


Airports in Hong Kong, Atlanta and Oslo are tops in their respective continents, while cost competitiveness of major airports in Canada generally went downward -- partly because of Canadian currency appreciation -- according to the annual Global Airport Benchmarking Report released by the Air Transport Research Society (ATRS) at the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia.

Atlanta lays claim to the title of most efficient and cost-competitive airport in North America. Pearson International Airport in Toronto, meanwhile, has the highest aircraft movement charges in the world, making it the most expensive place to land a commercial aircraft. According to the operating efficiency benchmarking methodology that the ATRS uses, Toronto’s Pearson is among the least efficient airports in North America.

ATRS, a leading academic research authority in air transport and logistics, evaluates the operating efficiency and cost competitiveness of 134 airports and 14 airport groups in the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia. The Global Airport Benchmarking Task Force includes leading researchers from Asia, Europe and North America, and is led by ATRS president and UBC Sauder School of Business professor Tae Oum. Findings were presented at the 11th Annual ATRS Conference in Berkeley, California this summer.

“This report provides a comprehensive and unbiased evaluation of airport performance around the globe,” says Oum. “With continued growth in the air transport industry, and unprecedented competition worldwide, these rankings are helpful to not only the airports and airlines, but also to governments, consultants, and institutional investors.”

Based on operating efficiency, top performing airports in Europe were Oslo and Athens, while Hong Kong and Singapore led the way in Asia.

According to the report, diversification is increasingly important not only for the financial health but also for efficient management and operation of today’s airports. “Airports with a larger share of non-aeronautical revenue including commercial revenue achieve higher efficiency and thus, able to offer lower fees for aircraft landings,” says Oum, who cites parking, office rentals, retail activity and real estate development as some of the areas where airports can be successful at supplementing air transport revenues.

For example, Atlanta’s airport generates 65 percent of their total revenue from non-aviation activities while Toronto’s Pearson International Airport generates only about 28% of their total revenue from non-aviation activities. Most other Canadian airports including Vancouver and Montreal generate more than 50 percent of their revenues from non-aviation activities, and thus, are able to offer much lower aircraft landing fees.

The Air Transport Research Society at the UBC Sauder School of Business, now in its 11th year, was established to enhance research capability for multi-national and multi-disciplinary issues on air transportation, and to foster interaction with international and national institutions which deal with policy and/or infrastructure issues concerning global aviation. It initiated the annual airport benchmarking project in year 2000.

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Derek Moscato
Communications Coordinator
Sauder School of Business