Journal of Transportation Management


The Financial Accounting Standards Board and the International Accounting Standards Board have set forth a proposal requiring companies to capitalize operating leases and include them as assets and liabilities on their balance sheets. The proposal is motivated by the fact that current methods accounting for operating leases hide a great deal of off-book leverage and thus are misleading to investors. Such a change would have a significant impact on the U.S. airline industry where aircraft and property operating leases are quite prevalent. This study utilizes an in-depth strategic management perspective in examining how well U.S. airlines pursue optimization strategies with regard to the management of financial leverage in order to achieve desired targets of growth and profitability. Such benchmarking is accomplished by utilizing the DEA model suggested by Capobianco and Fernandes (2004). This study demonstrates the distortion inherent in inter-airline benchmarking when operating leases are not capitalized on the balance sheet.