Consumer Nested Preferences, Switching in Airport Selection

Rex Hammond, Laszlo Czaban


This study applies a nested decision construct and qualitative methods in examining consumer switching and their selection of an originating airport. Focusing on the smallest segment of primary commercial service airports accentuates switching activity and explains why small airports experience greater leakage from their catchment areas and a substantially lower growth rate in the post-deregulation era. Transactional and systemic switching steer travelers away from their preferred hometown airports and, collectively, causes passenger migration from small airports to nearby larger airports and their characteristic advantages of lower airfare and greater flight options. Interview data enable the extrapolation of a conceptual framework consisting of four distinct traveler profiles: traders, simplifiers, gamers and broken. The heterogeneous priorities and purchasing patterns emerging from these profiles offer new insights to the segmentation and redirection of airport marketing initiatives to more efficiently expend marketing resources in minimizing adverse switching and optimizing passenger enplanements.

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