Air Cargo Market Structure, Intermodal Competition, and Prices: Evidence from Chinese Imports from Europe

Past event — 4 October 2018

Kühne Logistics University
Grosser Grasbrook 17, 20457 Hamburg, Room EG Hörsaal / Small Golden Egg

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Dr. Sara Maioli

Lecturer in Economics

Newcastle University Business School, UK


While about one third of international trade by value is shipped by air, the air cargo market itself remains understudied in the academic literature. A scant literature on air transport and international trade so far has focused only on air passenger travel (e.g Alderighi and Gaggero, 2017). Our contribution starts filling up this gap by examining the impact of air cargo market structure on shipment price and the share of product shipped by air - our measure of the extent of intermodal competition. We examine the data on goods imported into China from Europe, using a rich Chinese Customs dataset. We regress import share by air and shipment price on the air accessibility index (our measure of air cargo market structure) and a number of control variables, taking into account product, country, year, and firm specific heterogeneity. We employ instrumental variables estimation to tackle the inherent endogeneity, using air accessibility index on other markets as an instrument. Our preliminary results show robust relationships between our measure of air cargo accessibility on one hand and both the share of products shipped by air and shipment price on the other. Other things equal, the more concentrated the air cargo market is, the smaller the share of the product shipped by air as opposed to other modes of transport, and the higher the shipment price. Therefore, the easier the air cargo accessibility is, the higher the share of import by air. For larger firms and firms with more products, the effects of air cargo accessibility are stronger. Compared with domestic (i.e., Chinese) private firms, the effects for State firms are smaller while the effects for foreign firms are stronger. More generally, we demonstrate that the structure of transport markets has an impact on international trade.


Dr Sara Maioli is a Lecturer in Economics at Newcastle University Business School. After her under-graduate studies in Italy she gained an MSc in Economics at the University of Glasgow and a PhD in Economics at Strathclyde University in Glasgow. She previously held positions of research fellow at the Ente Einaudi in Rome and at the Leverhulme Centre for Globalisation and Economic Policy, University of Nottingham. She is an applied economist, with expertise in firm-level data. Her research interests relate to international economics, trade and labour, SMEs and rural businesses, using applied micro-econometric techniques. She published, among others, in the British Journal of Industrial Relations, the Journal of Banking and Finance, the International Journal of Production Economics, the International Journal of the Economics of Business and Empirical Economics. She is currently involved in an ESRC-funded project on productivity of rural firms in the UK and she is about to embark on a 5-year AHRC-funded project studying the internationalisation of the creative industries.

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Birgit Kappert

Program Manager