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Atlanta runs world's most fiscally efficient airport, Guangzhou boosts efficiency: UBC research

Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (ATL), one of the world's busiest international airports is also the most fiscally efficient, says an aviation think-tank based at the University of British Columbia's Sauder School of Business.

ATL generated 60 per cent of its total revenue from non-aviation activities, compared to the lowest-ranked North American airport Chicago's O'Hare International Airport (ORD), which derived only 34 per cent of its income from alternative sources.

The Air Transport Research Society (ATRS), headquartered at Sauder, has released the 2011 ATRS Global Airport Benchmarking Report comparing the fiscal efficiency of 156 airports and 19 airport groups in North America, Europe, Latin America and the Asia-Pacific.

The report, produced by a team of international aviation academics led by Sauder researcher Tae Oum, reveals that airports in Atlanta, Copenhagen, Oslo, Hong Kong and Sydney are the leaders in their respective continents for efficiency among international airports serving more than 15 million passengers a year.

The airport that made the biggest gain in efficiency in the 2011 ATRS report was China's Guangzhou Bai Yun (CAN), which recorded a massive boost in efficiency of 31.9 per cent from the previous year. This pushed the airport up the ranking to third place in the Asia-Pacific region from its previous ranking of ninth in 2010.

"Our report shows that the world's most efficient airports are supplementing core income with money generated through non-aeronautical revenue streams, such as parking, office rentals, retail activity and real estate development," says Prof. Oum, president of ATRS.

"Our benchmarking report also shows that more efficient airports tend to offer lower aircraft landing fees and passenger terminal charges, ultimately leaving more money in the pockets of travellers," says Oum.

Hartsfield-Jackson's diverse revenue streams allowed it to offer some of the lowest landing fees in the in North America for international flights, charging $376 for a Boeing 767 to land in 2010.

"The ATRS airport benchmarking study has been instrumental for management of airports around the world," says Mario Diaz, executive director of the Houston Airports System and former deputy general manager of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. "This research helps to reduce aircraft landing fees by improving efficiency of operations, increasing non-aeronautical revenue sources and exploring avenues to outsource non-critical airport activities and services."

Among Canadian airports, Vancouver International Airport (YVR) ranked highest in efficiency among those serving more than 15 million passengers per year, coming in at sixth in North America. For airports serving less than 15 million passengers per year, Calgary (YYC) was the highest ranked Canadian airport at fourth in North America.

Considered the most comprehensive independent evaluation of global airport performance, ATRS Global Airport Benchmarking Report ranks efficiency using a ratio that divides the total number of aircraft movements, passenger and cargo volumes and non-aeronautical revenue generation by full-time equivalent labour costs and other operational expenses, including outsourced services.

Findings of the 2011 report are based on analysis of data from 2009 collected by the ATRS research team and guided by 14 leading academics from Asia, Europe, North America and Australia.

The World's Most Efficient International Airports

North America:

More than 15 million annual passengers

Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport
Minneapolis - St. Paul International Airport
Charlotte Douglas International Airport
Less than 15 million annual passengers
Raleigh-Durham International Airport
Reno/Tahoe International Airports
Nashville International Airport
More than 15 million annual passengers
Copenhagen Kastrup International Airport (Tied)
Oslo Airport (Tied)
Athens International Airport
Less than 15 million annual passengers
Genève Aéroport
Keflavik International Airport (Iceland)
Lisbon Portela Airport
Hong Kong International Airport
Singapore Changi International Airport
Guangzhou Bai Yun Airport
Sydney Airport
Christchurch International Airpor
Melbourne Airport
For more information, visit

Lorraine Chan | EurekAlert!
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