FREIGHT FORWARDER SATISFACTION - A CONCEPTUALIZATION AND AN EMPIRICAL TEST OF EFFECT ON AIRPORT CUSTOMER LOYALTY AND COMPETITIVENESS

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In 2018, global gross domestic product (GDP) was US$86.3 trillion, and almost a quarter of that value was due to international trade with a value of US$19.6 trillion. Air cargo accounts for about 35 percent of that trade value (approximately $6.86 trillion). Moreover, from the perspective of airports, air cargo revenue contributes between 20 and 70 percent of the airports revenue. The global airport revenue for freight in 2018 was about US$250 billion. Competitiveness of airports has been well studied among passengers and airlines, but the literature concerning the competitiveness of airports concerning air cargo is less developed. The study presents the relevance of air cargo to supply chain and the global economy and suggests that while seldom studied, freight forwarders are a significant stakeholder to provide insight on this important and understudied phenomenon. The dissertation contributes to the literature by creating a synthesized measure of airport customer satisfaction, specific to air cargo, and tests the measure in an empirical model. The study provides evidence that airport freight forwarders’ satisfaction (air cargo customer satisfaction) is positively associated with airport competitiveness through a mediator – customer loyalty. Porter’s theory of industry structure and competitiveness is used to support the operationalization of the model. The population of interest is freight forwarders from the Dubai International Airport, United Arab Emirates. The Middle East represents 18 percent of the world’s air cargo revenue and the region’s air cargo revenues has been growing three times faster than worldwide air cargo making the Dubai airport an appropriate and novel foci for the study. A sample frame obtained from the National Association of Freight and Logistics (NAFL) provided a final sample of 187 respondents. The survey was undertaken during the fourth quarter of 2020.
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