The anticipated increase in competition among airports means that there is now a greater need for strategic thinking in the airport business industry. In order to succeed, airport management will have to implement new strategic initiatives and identify their key competitive strengths. While many airports are now more active in following strategic directions, there is some deficiency and inconsistency in the literature in this regard. This research relates the theories of strategic management to the case of airports in order to explore the issue of whether the airport business industry is able to apply the different strategies adopted by other industries in order to achieve growth. The research provides an in-depth analysis into the strategies that Dubai International Airport has pursued. This carefully selected case study involves the collection of qualitative data through conducting semi-structured interviews as a primary source of information. Data collected are applied to different well-known business tools including the PESTEL Analysis, the Five Forces Model and the Resource-based View (RBV) of the firm. The research found that there are some strategic differences between the airport industry and other industries. While it is possible for airports to adopt certain strategies, some strategic theories are not very practicable for airports. While Dubai International Airport is not considered very different from other airports, there are some differentiated characteristics in its ownership and management that led it to outperform its rivals. The research proposes that there are a number of key success factors derived from four core areas that led Dubai International Airport to obtain strategic strengths over other airports. These four areas include: General Condition, Competitive Situation, Resource Acquisition and Strategic Direction. These areas are also classified as No Control, Least Control, Some Control and Most Control, respectively. This thesis contributes to the development of a best practice conceptual model that can help airport managers understand and improve their key competitive strengths and success factors.
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.