Portuguese Airports and Regional Efficiency Evaluation: a Data Envelopment Analysis Combined with Analytical Network Process

Portuguese Airports and Regional Efficiency Evaluation: a Data Envelopment Analysis Combined with Analytical Network Process


T Marques, M Vaz, M Ema‚ ­l Baltazar, J Silva, LAETA/UI-AeroG, University of Beira Interior, PT


This paper studies the regional efficiency of Portuguese airports using Data Envelopment Analysis combined with Analytic Network Process, in order to identify the efficiency standards between geographical areas and airports.


Several studies confirm that airports have a considerable socio economic impact in the surrounding regions which necessarily presupposes the existence of specific linkages among these airports and the surrounding territory. In this context the existence of a competitive airport can increase the competitiveness of the regional system where it operates. But on the other hand some studies have demonstrated that the competitiveness of an airport is strongly influenced by the existence in the area of industrial activities, infrastructure and public services, operating in a competitive manner. This virtuous circle reinforces the need for taking into account regional variables when evaluating the performance and competitiveness of an airport. It is in this context that the concept of the regional efficiency of an airport must be understood since it considers the territorial variables within the airport hinterland.

Thus there is a consensus among researchers about the existence of catalytic effects brought by the presence of an airport in a given region. Still a myriad of methods have been used to explain and quantify those effects while there is little research about the economic clusters generated in an airport's hinterland. Certain clusters may appear practically always, while other clusters - which are an important source of geographic efficiency - may be not significant at all.

The application of operations research techniques to the field of aeronautics has been greatly expanded in the last years mainly due either the facility of construction of non-parametric models or the increasing availability of variables. Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) has been applied extensively to the efficiency in a given unit decision-making process (in this case, an airport) involving homogenous datasets of variables for each unit.

This paper studies the regional efficiency of some Portuguese airports (Lisbon, Oporto, Faro, Funchal and S. Miguel) using Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) combined with Analytic Network Process (ANP). In our study DEA determine the geographical efficiency of the Portuguese airports and ANP determine which inputs are the best to represent the clusters present in the airports' hinterland and the airport's externalities. The economic clusters of the airports' hinterland will be compared with a network of an ideal abstract model of economic clusters and after, designed according to the urban planning, taking advantage of the regions' own wealth and helping to the creation of value networks. The weakest links among the airport and the hinterland network can be considered as opportunities to improve both airport and geographical efficiency.

We expect, as a result of the study still under development, to obtain an estimate of geographical efficiency of some Portuguese airports, showing the efficiency standards between regions and airports too, while providing clues about opportunities for the expansion of infrastructures.

According to some authors, the ownership of the Portuguese airports (which are now public property, but in the process of its privatization discussion) can be a strong factor of constraint for their efficiency, notably with implications at the regulatory and operational levels, and must be discussed in order to determine the most efficient scenario for each region. Furthermore, geographical constraints characteristic of airports may support the definition of individual strategies in order to unleash their full potential.


Association for European Transport