An action research-led study to examine, influence and improve airline and airport passenger relationships for Cardiff International Airport
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Since the 1970's the regulatory and legislative developments affecting the aviation sector have dramatically changed how the airline and airport industries operate. Deregulation, privatisation and commercialisation trends, the introduction of the low-cost airline model and the subsequent diffusion process across airline networks have provided a new landscape in which regional airports can flourish. It was within this context, and in light of Bristol Airport's rapid development, that Cardiff Airport's senior management wanted to understand the levers for change and growth, enabling the airport to attract new airline partners and stimulate passenger growth. In 2005 a 30-month Knowledge Transfer Partnership was selected as the vehicle to deliver a project which would examine, influence and improve airport-airline and airport-passenger relationships in order to drive expansion. Adopting an overarching action research methodology the research begins by drawing on the key body of literature by atomising the research topic into three sections - airports, airlines and passengers. The reviewed literature defines the context, examining airport and airline strategic motivations, respective business models and the choice factors behind the decision-making process. This provides the basis for three separate but interrelated action research cycles and associated 'spin out' projects, moving the research from an exploratory unknown to a developed intelligence-led platform. The end result is an assessment of the various findings from which a set of defined actions and an espoused 'Applied Support Model' for business development, specific to Cardiff Airport are developed. The logic lying in the utilisation of all the 'key players' in the airport's environ, to directly and indirectly influence the airlines' choice behaviour, which ultimately influences passengers' choice behaviour through the increased airline product offering. Such insight enables airport management to adopt a more focused, strategic approach to developing productive relationships with its customers and aids airport practitioners and academics alike.
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