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


Airports in Atlanta, Copenhagen and Hong Kong 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), headquartered in 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 landing charges by far in the world, making it the most expensive place to land a commercial aircraft. In this year, Greater Toronto Airport Authority (GTAA) has asked the ATRS not to include Toronto’s Pearson International Airport in the ATRS benchmarking of efficiency or cost competitiveness of airports and has not supplied the necessary data to do proper comparison.

ATRS, a leading academic research authority in air transport, evaluates the operating efficiency and cost competitiveness of 134 airports and 14 airport groups in the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia and Oceania. 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.

“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 airport globally was Atlanta’s Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The top airports in Europe were Copenhagen and Oslo, 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, in 2006 Atlanta airport generated 69% of their total revenue from non-aviation activities while Toronto’s Pearson International Airport generated only about 30.2% of their total revenue from non-aviation activities. Many other airports including Vancouver, Calgary and Montreal generate more than 50% of their revenues from non-aviation activities, and thus, able to offer much lower aircraft landing fees.

The list below compares 2007 landing fees of Atlanta, Toronto, Tokyo’s Narita, and Vancouver international airports (in US dollars):



(524 seats)

(304 seats)

(150 seats)
(50 seats)
Atlanta: $300 $161 $67 $22
Narita: $6446 $2975 $1132 $330
Toronto: $12290 $6321 $2275 $745
Vancouver: $1702 $875 $315 $87

(Sources: calculated by the ATRS based on the landing fee schedules of respective airports; The detailed comparisons of landing fees for 148 airports around the world are available in the ATRS global airport benchmarking reports, 3 volumes, 400+ pages, and can be purchased from

Vancouver International Airport charges the lowest landing fees among the nine major airports in Canada included in the ATRS Global Airport Benchmarking project.

The Air Transport Research Society now in its 12th 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. For more information, visit

For more information, contact:

Derek Moscato
Communications Coordinator
Sauder School of Business