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Geographic Patterns of Air Passenger Transport in China 1980–1998: Imprints of Economic Growth, Regional Inequality, and Network Development

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This research analyzes the geographic patterns of domestic air passenger transport in China from 1980 to 1998, with three foci: (1) impacts of economic reforms, (2) regional inequality in air transport development, and (3) network development. Accessibility to air transport improved significantly as China expanded its air transport system, 1980–1998. The dominance of major airports declined as the air transport system expanded to medium and small cities. The centroid of passenger volume migrated toward southeast, consistent with the expansion of economic growth in southeast coastal areas. The rule of distance decay in air traffic was more applicable to China in 1998 than in 1985 as the market economy worked its way into China's air transport system. The East Region had a much higher share of air passengers than its share of population and GDP, followed by the West and the Middle Regions, reflecting an interesting “flyover” effect. By 1998, a hub-and-spoke air transport system was clearly in place in China.
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Keywords: China; air transport geography; flyover effect; hub-and-spoke system; regional inequality

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Chinese Academy of Sciences 2: Northern Illinois University

Publication date: November 1, 2004

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