Spatio-temporal fluctuations in the global airport hierarchies

Tony H. Grubesic, Timothy C. Matisziw, Matthew A. Zook

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


The global air transportation network is responsible for moving millions of domestic and international passengers each year. Not surprisingly, relationships between airports vary widely, due to a myriad of geographic, economic, political and historical determinants. Further, given the dynamic nature of the many influences acting on the air transportation system, inter-airport relationships and the structure of the global air network as a whole are also constantly changing. The purpose of this paper is to explore such spatio-temporal variations in the structure of the global airport hierarchies. Here, we show how the concept of nodal regions can be applied to measure the extent of these variations. To facilitate this analysis, a database of nearly 900 airline carrier schedules and 4650 worldwide origins and destinations, representing a nearly complete record of commercial air travel over a six-year period, is examined. Given this dataset, nodal regions are derived for all airports represented. In general, results suggest that regions associated with individual airports are often relatively dynamic at the yearly as well as quarterly level. Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is utilized as a local case-study to provide a detailed examination of these dynamics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)264-275
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Transport Geography
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2009


  • Airline networks
  • Global cities
  • Hierarchy
  • Spatial analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Transportation
  • Environmental Science (all)


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