Concordia launchs aviation think tank to help sector grow and compete

Mark Henderson
October 11, 2016

Montreal's Concordia Univ has launched an aviation think tank to assist industry and policy makers in developing priorities for improving the sector's sustainability and profitability. Touted as a world first, the think tank will build on the research of Dr Isabelle Dostaler, a management professor with the university's school of business and guided by an international advisory board to determine strategic direction and research objectives.

The establishment of the think tank goes a long way towards restoring Concordia's research capacity in the aviation sector. Its aviation MBA program was cancelled about a decade ago although aviation research has continued at the university, as well as non-credit courses in leadership development and aviation management.

With a focus on the needs of airports, airlines and navigation services, the think tank will tackle issues such as airport ownership structure and competitiveness levels, the regulatory environment, tourism and various financial aspects of the sector.

A team has been assembled and officials are looking for public and private funding to launch the think tank beyond a pilot study on airports which should be complete in early 2017.

"We want to inform policy makers and companies by doing research that's practical in nature and this type of initiative currently does not exist … We surveyed the research world and there's nothing else like what we envisioned and put together," says Dostaler. "The research we want to do will be multidisciplinary.

Dostaler refers to the 2012 Aerospace Advisory Council report – dubbed the Emerson report after its chair, David Emerson, former minister of Industry and Foreign Affairs in the previous Conservative government. She says that while its diagnosis of the sector was good, "its solutions were questionable".

"Privatizing Canada's four big airports is not a good idea … A lot of research has been done in this field so we're benchmarking globally and looking at past performance," says Dostaler. "We take a more dynamic approach and model the competitiveness levels of airports to develop the concept of the airport of the future, to help Transport Canada to design better policy by looking for the best business model."


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