The National Academies

ACRP 03-44 [Final]

Building and Maintaining Air Service Through Incentive Programs

  Project Data
Funds: $324,863
Research Agency: GRA, Incorporated
Principal Investigator: David Ballard
Effective Date: 4/11/2017
Completion Date: 7/31/2019


Robust air service is an important element for a region’s economic well-being and overall quality of life of its residents. Improving and maintaining air service is therefore a constant goal of airports and the communities they serve. Incentives, both financial and non-financial, are used to encourage airlines to provide additional service to a community.
Recent trends in the airline industry (e.g., airline consolidation, use of larger aircraft, pilot shortage), as well as regulatory and policy considerations on the use of revenue and the design of incentive programs, can make developing, executing, and gauging the effectiveness of these programs challenging. While ACRP has produced research to help develop air service initiatives, it does not reflect the latest developments, nor does it provide detailed guidance on implementing incentive programs.
Research is needed to evaluate air service incentive efforts and develop guidance for airports and communities for implementing incentives to develop and maintain commercial air service.
The objective of this research is to develop a guidebook to help airports and communities maintain and build commercial air service through incentive programs. The guidebook should provide, at a minimum: 
  • Summary of key current and emerging issues and trends affecting air service (e.g., change in gauge, pilot shortage, airline consolidation, evolving airline business models);
  • Description of incentive measures, including funding sources, prevalence in the U.S., and the degree to which they induced and maintained air service;
  • Description of regulatory guidelines and policies affecting the use of incentive programs;
  • Process and tools (e.g., decision tree, flow chart) for developing and implementing incentive programs tailored to an airport’s and community’s unique circumstances (e.g., governance, geography, market composition and size, funding sources and amounts), including:
    • Working with communities (e.g., gauging community goals and commitment to invest)
    • Working with airlines (e.g., understanding air service provider perspective);
  • Process that considers both quantitative and qualitative means for gauging incentive program effectiveness;
  • Specific examples of where airports and/or communities of various sizes have successfully implemented air service incentive measures, presented in a consistent, easy-to-read format;
  • Potential incentive measures currently not implemented in the U.S.;
  • List of resources; and
  • Glossary.

Research is complete.  Results are available in ACRP Research Report 218.

To create a link to this page, use this URL: http://apps.trb.org/cmsfeed/TRBNetProjectDisplay.asp?ProjectID=4242