Essays on Airports and Cities in Networks by Maurits Schaafsma Article

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The paper “ Airports and Cities in Networks by Maurits Schaafsma” is a  persuading variant of the article on social science. Maurits Schaafsma’ s article “ Airports and Cities in Networks” describes a shift in development brought about by the evolution of the airline industry and the airports that form their transportation networks. The discussion is divided into four parts: First, Schaafsma describes how deregulation has changed the airline industry by consolidating or eliminating many smaller or economically-unviable airlines on the one hand, and providing opportunities for new entrants on the other. Next, he explains how the more competitive environment after deregulation has changed airline business practices to develop the “ hub and spoke” route network model.

In the third part, the functional aspects of airports in terms of moving planes and people are briefly described. Finally, the evolution of airports as ‘ places’ is discussed, both in terms of the features of the airports themselves and in the urban development they attract to the areas around them. The changes in the airline industry have occurred more rapidly in the US than in Europe, following the deregulation of the US industry in 1978 which permitted open competition among the airlines.

As a result, many new airlines entered the market, while some of the oldest and less-competitive airlines such as Pan Am, TWA, and Eastern went out of business. In order to remain profitable in the competitive new environment, airlines began shifting their operations from a model in which many cities were connected directly to all, or almost all, of the other cities in an airline’ s network to a “ hub and spoke” model, in which cities are connected to a single, strategically-located “ hub” airport, from which passengers make connections to other cities located along the “ spokes. ” This allows the airlines to operate more efficiently by using fewer, larger planes with a higher capacity between high-density airports (such as from one “ hub” to another), and smaller, more economical planes for less-crowded routes (such as between a “ hub” and a “ spoke” destination).

To further increase efficient use of capacity – presumably, since the rationale is not actually explained – the airlines also formed “ alliances, ” concentrating their operations in a few key strategic locations. The location of hub airports does not necessarily correspond to traditional geography.

Some very large and important cities such as New York, London, Los Angeles, Tokyo, and Hong Kong are not generally used as hub locations but are considered OD (origin/destination) cities. Hub airports have developed, it seems, according to operational logic along major air travel pathways and according to the usefulness presented by the airport facilities themselves. Thus centrally-located Frankfurt, for example, is a very large hub in Germany, while the capital Berlin is of comparatively minor importance from the airlines’ perspective.

Likewise, Los Angeles and New York, the two largest cities in North America, are not hub locations while Detroit and Atlanta, located along the continent’ s natural north-south and east-west air travel axes, are major hubs. The functional design of the airports themselves are evolving to better meet the needs of the airlines and the variety of customers they serve. The traditional airport design is one of a linear terminal or even a collection of terminals adjacent to one or two parallel runways laid out in the direction of the prevailing wind, with a cross-wind runway sometimes included.

Newer, hub-friendly airport design considers future expansion and is configured for moving aircraft and passenger traffic efficiently. Typical design features described are multiple pairs of prevailing-wind and cross-wind runways, with centrally-sited terminal facilities laid out in a hub arrangement; the aircraft can access the terminal from all sides, while passengers enter through a single central area in which most services are concentrated, and can disperse to the boarding areas without leaving the terminal building.

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