PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2021, Vol. 40 ›› Issue (10): 1761-1770.doi: 10.18306/dlkxjz.2021.10.012

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Airport agglomeration research: A review and prospect

MO Huihui1(), WANG Jiao'e2,3,*(), GAO Chao1, WANG Han1   

  1. 1. China Academy of Civil Aviation Science and Technology, Beijing 100028, China
    2. Key Laboratory of Regional Sustainable Development Modeling, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    3. College of Resources and Environment, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2020-12-31 Revised:2021-01-31 Online:2021-10-28 Published:2021-12-28
  • Contact: WANG Jiao'e;
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(42171187);Major Program of National Social Science Foundation of China(20&ZD099)


Air transport has played a critical role worldwide for human mobility and trade. Airport agglomeration, usually located in urban agglomerations or metropolitan regions, are developing globally, and are estimated to handle most global passenger traffic. Multiple airport systems have long received attention from researchers. Meanwhile, airport agglomeration, as a new concept appeared in China's airport planning, has gradually grown into an emerging hot research field for air transport geography. This article reviewed related research on airport agglomeration as well as multiple airport system, defined the concept, and then discussed related research topics. It classified relevant research on airport agglomeration in China into three stages: 1) The embryonic stage before 2008; 2) the initial development stage between 2008 and 2016; and (3) the prosperous development stage since 2017. The research topics on airport agglomeration mainly involve six aspects: 1) Identification of developmental processes and organizational patterns. 2) Airports' catchment area and ground transport access. 3) Characteristics of air transport connectivity and optimization of air route network. 4) Passengers' travel behavior and airport choice. 5) Airport layout planning and evaluation. 6) Competition and cooperation of airports and their regional coordination. For the first time, this study distinguished multi-airport system, regional airport system, and airport agglomeration from a spatial view. From the perspective of geography, future research of airport agglomeration should focus on the following three aspects: 1) To clarify the conceptual connotation of airport agglomeration, strengthen empirical research and analysis, and establish a theory and methodology for the identification of the spatial organization pattern of airport agglomeration. 2) To build the airport-hinterland (or city) "spatial flow" big data system on the basis of urban agglomerations, and to explore the spatiotemporal pattern and development mechanism of airport agglomeration. 3) To explore practical solutions that can guide the resource development and optimization of an airport agglomeration and its coordination area.

Key words: airport agglomeration, multi-airport system, airline network, regional airport system, urban agglomeration