Exploring Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis Method as A Tool to Choose Regional Airport Hubs within Africa

Exploring Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis Method as A Tool to Choose Regional Airport Hubs within Africa

B. Ssamula

Built Environment, CSIR, South Africa

| |
| | Citation



The aviation industry in the African region, in order to compete with the global market, is exploring and actively pursing expansion either through strategic alliances or by adopting the hub and spoke (H&S) network development. Hubbing has the major benefi ts of consolidating passengers, thus increasing frequency of travel while increasing accessibility and improving the economies of scale to operate the service. The African region is vast and is characterised by sparse passenger demand; therefore, the decisions made in locating airports as hubs pose a challenge. This paper aims to explore the use of the multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) tools as a method of choosing hub airports. The reason why the MCDA tools are most appropriate is because choosing a hub airport is a complex decision which has to take into account various issues like: network costs, infrastructure costs, security, economic viability, safety, passenger travel time expenditure, etc. The various tools, processes and methodologies used in decision making theory are explored and applied in order to choose hub airports with the lowest transport costs in an efficient H&S network. The major findings in this study show that because Africa has a sparse network, with a few role players, the choice in hub location options relies greatly on the cost of routing passengers through the hub airport. MCDA is shown to be a useful tool whose only limitation is maintaining the uniformity of weighting the criteria for the whole region.


Africa aviation, airports, decision analysis, hub location, network design


[1] Chingosho, E., African Airlines in the Era of Liberalization; Surviving the Competitive Jungle. E-Book, ISBN 9966-05-011-6, 2005.

[2] Button, K., Lall, S., Stough, R. & Trice, M., Debunking some common myths about airport hubs. Journal of Air Transport Management, 8, pp. 177–188, 2002. doi:10.1016/S0969-6997-(02)00002-9

[3] CMISRO (Center for Mathematical and Information Sciences), Operations Research – Hub Location Report. Australia, 2003. http://www.cmis.csiro.au/or/hubLocation/ accessed 3/02/04.

[4] Ssamula, B., Strategies to Design a Cost-effective Hub Network for Sparse Air Travel Demand in Africa. PhD Thesis, University of Pretoria, South Africa, 2008.

[5] Boland, N., Krishnamoorthy, M., Ernst, A.T. & Ebery, J., Preprocessing and cutting for multiple allocation hub location problems. European Journal of Operational Research, 155(3), pp. 638–653, 2004. doi:10.1016/S0377-2217(03)00072-9

[6] Campbell, J.F., Hub location and the ρ-hub median problem. Operations Research, 44, pp. 923–935, 1996. doi:10.1287/opre.44.6.923

[7] Schnell, M.C.A. & Huschelrath, K., Existing and new evidence on the effects of airline hubs. International Journal of Transport Economics, XXXI(1), pp. 99–121, 2004.

[8] Morrell, P. & Lu, C., The environmental cost implication of hub–hub versus hub by-pass flight networks. Transportation Research Part D, 12, pp. 143–157, 2007. doi:10.1016/j. trd.2007.01.008

[9] Tecle, A. & Duckstein, L., Concepts of multicriterion decision making. Multicriteria  Analysis in Water Resources Management, eds J.J. Bogardi & H.P. Nachtnebel, UNESCO: Paris, pp. 33–62, 1994.

[10] Pieterson, K., Multiple criteria decision analysis (MCDA); a tool to support sustainable management of groundwater resources in South Africa. Water SA, 32(2), pp. 119–128, 2006. ISSN 0378-4738.

[11] Belton, V. & Stewart, T.J., Multiple Criteria Decision Analysis – An Integrated Approach, Kluwer Academic Publishers: Boston/Dordrecht/London, 2002.

[12] Keeney, R.L., Decision analysis: an overview. Operations Research, 30(5), pp. 803–838, 1982. doi:10.1287/opre.30.5.803

[13] O’Kelly, M.E. & Bryan, D., Hub location with flow economies of scale. Transportation Research Part B, 32(8), pp. 605–616, 1998. doi:10.1016/S0191-2615(98)00021-6

[14] Ssamula, B., Analysing aircraft selection for route operating cost for short-haul routes. Journal of the South African Institute for Civil Engineers (SAICE), 48(2), pp. 2–9, 2006.

[15] Swan, W.M. & Adler, N., Aircraft trip cost parameters: a function of stage length and seat  capacity. Transportation Research Part E, 42, pp. 105–115, 2006. doi:10.1016/j.tre.2005.09.004

[16] Topcuoglu, H., Corut, F., Ermis, M. & Yilmaz, G., Solving the uncapacitated hub location problem using genetic algorithms. Computers & Operations Research, 32(4), pp. 967–984, 2005. doi:10.1016/j.cor.2003.09.008

[17] Klincewicz, J.G., A dual algorithm for the uncapacitated hub location problem. Location  Science, 4, pp. 173–184, 1996.

[18] Doganis, R., The Airline Industry in the 21st Century, 1st edn, Routledge: London, 2001.

[19] Ssamula, B., Developing a Cost Model for Running an Airline Service. MEng Dissertation, University of Pretoria, South Africa, 2004.