The 13th Air Transport Research Society world conference

The 13th Air Transport Research Society world conference

Location: Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

This event has a well deserved reputation for providing networking opportunities for aviation researchers from across the world in all spheres of interest. We appreciate that you will share your knowledge with us at a time when aviation is emerging as one of our most important economic sectors.


Spring 2005, a new scientific organization on air transport (called ‘Airneth’) was established at the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands. On first sight, it is not really clear what the difference with similar networks like ATRS and GARS is, apart from the fact that it is Dutch-based.

Nevertheless, Airneth (managed by aviation economists Jaap de Wit and Guillaume Burghouwt from the UvA) already organized a couple of event of which I attended two. The first event was a symposium called the ‘Mainport Schiphol Debate’ that focused on policy issues with regard to the development of Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. The symposium was held in the ArenA stadium in Amsterdam and was really well organized. This gathering consisted of two parts: one part consisted of presentations from experts with different perspectives on the theme. The second part was a lively English-parlementary style debate between participants on some controversial postulations. Apart from the fact that the chosen subject for this gathering wasn’t really thrilling (the development of Schiphol Airport is debated in the Netherlands on a continuous basis for decades), I have to say that this first event was very well organized with a high attendance.

The second event took place last Friday in a hotel in Amsterdam and had a more international nature as the theme for this gathering was “The impact of the expansion of Dubai International Airport and Emirates on international airline competition”. Although it was not really clear to me why Airneth organized this event right now, it was again a professional meeting with interesting presentations from experts in the field. A drawback was a lack of any representative from Emirates which could have peppered discussions.

Public frequently held get-togheters on air transport economic subject in the Netherlands seem like a novelty. Jaap de Wit and Guillaume Burghouwt deserve praise for their efforts and I wish them good luck with the development of their Airneth initiative.

If you wish to learn more about the shortly described conferences here, just browse to for more info.

The Shannon stop in Dublin: Air Transport Research Group Meeting


By: Hans Adriaanse

Although it was the second time only, that the ATRG-Meeting was organized, already it attracted 106 participants from 17 countries.

The membership of the group, founded by Professor Tae Oum from University of British Columbia, now consists of 350 aviation researchers, policy-makers and executives from 28 countries.

The theme was AIR TRANSPORT IN THE NEW MILLENNIUM : OPPORTUNITIES IN COMPETITIVE MARKETS. A coherent, high quality series of interesting papers focussing on highly relevant issues such as European air transport policy,Networks and Al-liances, Economics and Pricing, Airline financing and performance, Airport management, Airline competitiveness, Deregulation, Air freight and Logistics, etc. There was remarkably little attention for the environmental aspects of aviation, exception made for the one paper on the the TGV-effect by Judith Patterson.

I want to highlight the one discussion session on Tuesday morning about Irish air transport policy. First of all, the topic of Irish air transport policy proved to be a very interesting one, as the speakers, all key players in this area, managed to put the problems in a historical perspective.

Participants in the discussion Mr. John Lumsden, Head of Air Transport in the Irish Dept of Public Enterprise, Mr John Burke, CEO of Air Rianta, managing body of the Irish Airports, Mr Gary Cullen, chief operating officer at Aer Lingus and Mr. Colm McCarthy, independent consultant. Under the witty guidance of Dr. Garret Fitzgerald, former Prime Minister of the Irish Republic, the debate took off in various directions, only to reveal the cornerstone of Irish aviation policy: the SHANNON stop!

As mr Lumsden had to explain repeatedly, to his own dismay your observer had to assume, the even distribution of welfare and wealth in the Republic required that, as in the early days of transatlantic crossing, airlines coming to Dublin, had to make a stop at Shannon airport.

This requirement must have helped to turn away a number of companies from Dublin air-port, to the advantage of Aer Lingus network operation. Nevertheless, Continental now, as a first interna-tional airline was announced to have complied with the Shannon stop requirement. Dr Fitz-gerald asked himself, what London Airports would have been like, if all airlines would have been required to come to Liverpool simultaneously. This Irish anti-hubbing verdict did not amuse Mr. McCarthy at all: nonetheless he predicted that airport access would be the bottleneck of Dublin Airport development.

On the dreary Sunday morning that I tried to leave Dublin through its airport, he only proved to be deadly right. I waited for the first bus to come at 6.30 in fresh showers right behind the Busaras Central Station, that has no busser-vice to the airport at that time of the day. So I took the city double decker for 90 pence. It came, though 15 minutes late; I was soaked. Coming closer to the airport, I saw what Mr McCar-thy must have meant: a firm traf-fic jam blocked the road to the terminal on a Sunday morning! No train, no Air-portbus, so everybody was on its own!

On my late arrival in the terminal, I found out that I had still 20 minutes to check in, that there were 3 counters available for “Europe”. The hall was filled with desperate travellers. I still do not know how I managed to get into the plane in time. It must have been a fortunately late departure!

The next ATRG-Meeting will be held in Hongkong, HKSAR, China June 6th to 9th in 1999. One thing you can be sure of : the programme will be just as good as it was when Dr Aisling organi-zed it in Dublin, or better. Airport access will be unprecedentedly better ! Chek Lap Kok , Hongkong’s new international Airport is waiting for you to offer the best to the air trans-port research community: highly recommended !

Antwerp 1998: 8th World Conference on Transport Research

By Guillaume Burghouwt

Nowadays, deregulation of air transport is a hot item. A lot of discussion has risen about the results of the American ‘Airline Deregulation Act’ of 1978 and similar liberalising policies in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Some are speaking about the failure of airline deregulation, others measure the process as a positive experience.

Recently, the European Union has become member of the ‘open skies’-family. In three ‘packages’ of liberalisation measures in 1987, 1990 and 1992, the restrictions on the European air transport market were gradually fased out. In April 1997, the last barriers to competition were lifted. No more fixed prices, no more capacity agreements and designation restrictions would hinder airlines to enter routemarkets. The results of the liberalisation process are already visible. There are some new start-up-carriers creating price competition. There is more alliance-activity. ‘Peanut airlines’ like EasyJet and Virgin Express are emerging.
But whereas a huge amount of literature exists about the effects of deregulation policies in Canada, Australia and especially the United States, most of the discussion about the results of liberalising Europe has been limited to prospects about the possible impacts of the ‘packages’ compared to the US. Only a few detailed and available empirical studies have been published recently (e.g. Civil Aviation Authority (1998), The single European aviation market: the first five years; Commission of the European Communities (1996), Impact of the third package of air transport liberalisation measures).

So I was delighted when my supervisor at the university gave me the permission to visit the ‘8th World Conference on Transport Research’ to find out about the latest facts on Europe’s aviation market. It would possibly help doing my final thesis about the effects of European deregulation.

The 12th of July, I went to Antwerp where the Conference would be held. The WCTR is one of world’s most important conferences on transport research and is being held every three years. It intends to provide an overview of the latest developments in research on a wide range of transport topics. Besides, the Conference offers the host-city an opportunity for city and region marketing. So I was regaled with the taste of a lot of excellent Flemish beers, a nightly visit to the flamingo-quarter in the Antwerp Zoo and a interesting tour through the port of Antwerp.

More then thousand participants from all over the world attended this 8th WCTR in Antwerp. A similar number of papers were presented in 44 topic areas. One of the topic areas was the special-interest group ATRG. ATRG stands for Air Transport Research Group and is headed by the well-known Tae Oum from the University of British Columbia. About 50 papers on aviation-related topics were presented during five congress-days by quite famous names like Kenneth Button and William Swann. Some interesting things were put in advance during the ATRG-sessions.

Firstly, deregulation remains one of the most important subjects in aviation research but the crisis in Asia is now making a mess of things. It is not clear at the moment which kind of effect the crisis is going to have on the process of liberalisation of the bilaterals between, e.g., the United States and Malaysia. Will the crisis lead to more protection of the national economies and re-regulation of some liberalised bilateral agreements? Or will the crisis bring high priests of deregulation like the US in a better position in negotiating the liberalisation of bilaterals?

Neither the effects of the crisis on the industry as a whole are entirely clear. The airline industry faces a new kind of problem due to the existence of big regional alliances and global galaxies like Star Alliance and Global Excellence.
Most major airlines are strongly related to one or more airlines on the other side of the world. Economic recessions and other prob-lems can have a serious ef-fect on the alliance-partners. The strike of the Northwest Air-lines’ pilots and the effect on KLM’s results is just an ex-ample of this interrelation-ship between alliance-partners.
Although the Asian (and per-haps Latin-American) crisis might turn out as a disaster for some airlines, the crisis and the emergence of global galaxies and other types of alliances have brought about some fresh items for aviation research.

Secondly, especially in Europe a lack of data on aviation exists. Whereas in the United States every year a ten percent ticket-sample is held, in Europe such a sam-ple doesn’t exist. As a result, research about the effects from liberalisation or other processes on changes in tar-iffs is extremely difficult. Exact, differentiated prices and passenger types per flight aren’t easily available. There-fore, it was not sur-prising that William Swann, professor of economics and working for Boeing, said: ‘It’s going to be difficult for researchers’. He mentioned that the lack of exact data might be one of the factors that have determined the relatively poor results of European liberalisation in respect to the US. In Europe, new entrants aren’t always able to get sufficient market information to form a strat-egy and compete with the incum-bents. In the US such a bar-rier doesn’t exist and entering a market is perhaps less diffi-cult. More market-informa-tion about prices, passenger types and transfer passengers is essential for researcher and might be es-sential for the success of a liberalised Euro-pean air transport market.

Thirdly, the Air Transport Research Group wants to extend its activities and be-come the global organisation for aviation researchers. Re-cently, the ATRG has pub-lished its first two newslet-ters where one can find ref-erences of new publications and an-nouncements of re-gional and world congresses. The news-letter will be pub-lished on a regular basis. ATRG also has the purpose to function as a platform where researchers, policy-makers and managers can contact each other. A next ATRG-congress will be held in Hong-Kong in 1999

ATRG has already made a good start. Three of the avia-tion papers were selected out of 900 papers, to be awarded top paper prizes, by the Con-ference’s Prize Committee. Amongst others, a Dutch paper from Youdi Schipper, Peter Nijkamp and Piet Riet-veld was awarded, called ‘Frequency equilibria and external costs in duopoly airline markets’.

The 8th WCTR has been a useful experience. Not only because of the interesting results and the enrichment of my paper-collection. Maybe even more important was the possibility to get in contact with aviation-people from all over the world. When I was drinking a beer with a Greek and Japanese researcher in the Antwerp Zoo, evaluating the results of the Conference, I thought for a moment of the words from Albert Plesman. He was right: Aviation does connect nations. I am already saving money for Seoul 2001, 9th WCTR.

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