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Benchmarking Techniques and Airport Management

            Air industry has been an integral part of globalisation. Like many sectors affected by the waves of global changes, airport industry too have come a long way. Because of factors like deregulation from government, commercialisation and continuous movement of passengers' worldwide, demands on airports are continuously increasing. Graham and Dennis (2007) highlight that airports are continuously adopting business-like management philosophies as they are being subjected to significant pressure from investors and customers. Airports also face many competitors contending for air traffic shares. To be able to balance this pressure and operate smoothly, airport efficiency and profitability have been identified as vital issues of airport management. Consequently, airport managers globally seek to provide the best possible service in the most efficient manner. In order to achieve desired competency and viability in terms of activities and income respectively, airport industry relies on a variety of benchmarking techniques. Wong and Wong (2008) define benchmarking as "a management tool that can be defined as the systematic process of searching for best practices, innovative ideas and efficiencies that lead to continuous improvement". The motive of benchmarking however varies from airport to airport. Benchmarking techniques are commonly used to achieve commercial interest which is understandably the major objective of private companies. Nevertheless, benchmarking is also widely used to identify, track and overcome sub-minimal operational activities. Since these issues form core functioning arena for airports, benchmarking them via techniques like Partial Factor Productivity (PFP), Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) are popular. These techniques are commonly used by airport management to measure financial, economic and operational efficiency.
             A survey carried out by Francis, Humphreys and Fry (2002) on world's top 200 airports showed that 72 % practised benchmarking.

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