A border effect in airport choice: evidence from Northwest Europe

Air travelers are very reluctant to use a foreign airport as point of departure for their journey.  According to the results of this study, air travelers are three to four times more likely to select an airport in the country of residence, if other aspects, like distance to the airport and flight frequency, are equal. This border effect has implications for marketing and policy measures, especially in smaller sized countries, such as the Netherlands and Belgium. Our research offers a new perspective on airport choice: even when travelling across borders in the sky, national borders remain important.

Large-scale survey

Our research is based on a large-scale survey among German, Dutch and Belgian adults (n=8,407). Respondents were asked about their last flights, preferences regarding long distance travel, and general travel behavior. The survey information about the last trip is linked to OAG flight schedule data for the Northwest Europe region. We modelled 18 airports in this region. On average, however, only 10 airports offered direct connections to the destinations of the respondents’ last flight. A conditional logit model with varying choice sets allowed us to model only these relevant options per respondent.

This research paper is an extended, upgraded and updated version of previous research findings as reported in a Dutch research paper Kriebels van een vertrekluchthaven in het buitenland from November 2018.