The Impacts of Air Transportation and Airport on Regional Economic Development

  • 1. Department of Geography & Geosciences, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY 40292;
    2. School of Geography Science, Nanjing Normal University, Nanjing, Jiangsu 210097

Received date: 2005-11-19

  Revised date: 2006-04-09

  Online published: 2006-11-20


Air transportation is one of the world’s most important industries. Its development and its technical and service achievements make it one of the greatest contributors to the advancement of modern society. It plays an increasingly vital role in facilitating economic growth, particularly in developing countries and regions. Better understanding the nature of air transportation system and the role that air transport and airports play in an urban agglomeration is critical because the 'accessibility through airports’ issue has assumed an elevating role in answering the 'how’ and 'where’ of the geography of economic activity in the modern economy. This paper focuses on the economics of airports. It examines advantages enjoyed by passengers having access to a major airport, as well as the economic benefits that accrue to a city or geographical region that is host to a major airport, especially a hub airport. In particular, it looks into the linkages between airport-related activities and local economic development. By facilitating the flow of people and commerce, air transports and airports play a pivotal role in the industrial expansion and economic growth, both through their own activities and as an enabler of other industries. Airports essentially have four potential types of impact on the regional economy. The primary and secondary effects of airports are fulfilled through: 1) employment and income generated by airports and supporting activities, 2) employment and income generated by air passengers who make expenditures on travel-related services in local areas, and 3) induced economic activities as a consequence of the successive rounds of spending made by the recipients of the first two types of activities. These benefits can be extremely important to a local economy in terms of employment, household income and, for local government, taxation revenue. The tertiary effects of airports stemed from the economic stimulus benefiting a local or regional economy as firms and individuals, particularly high-technology companies, are attracted to the locale due to the fact that majors of airport and high-quality air transport are available. High-technology jobs and other administrative and auxiliary-related jobs have grown considerably in the region of major airport activities. By initially attracting key businesses to an area in sufficient numbers, airport development can lead to the crossing of important thresholds in terms of economies of scale, scope and density, through which a region can acquire a vital knowledge base to foster local development and make the region quasi-independent of others. The regional economy can feed on this to further its high-technology activities and hence to accelerate its growth (perpetuity effects).

Cite this article

SONG Wei, YANG Ka . The Impacts of Air Transportation and Airport on Regional Economic Development[J]. SCIENTIA GEOGRAPHICA SINICA, 2006 , 26(6) : 649 -657 . DOI: 10.13249/j.cnki.sgs.2006.06.649


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