Geography of Air Transportation: Retrospect & Prospect
2011, 30 (6):
Geography of air transportation is an important part and also a young branch of transportation geography. Based on the study of air transportation in China, Europe and the US, this paper divided the air transportation research into four stages in terms of evolution process, technique innovation, and institutional change: (1) initial stage before the 1950s, (2) theory foundation stage from the 1950s to the 1970s, (3) theory improvement stage from the 1980s to the 1990s, and (4) theory and practice prosperity stage since the 21st century. The research theme of air transportation geography includes several aspects as follows: history records and regional geography study, airport distribution and urban system, network structure and organization effect, the relationship between air transportation organization and regional development, airport planning and its influencing factors, and influence of policies on air industry. Recently, geographers have paid more attention to the development of air transportation as related data are available to the public. The complexity of air transportation network, world (central) city, evolution of the airport system and air transportation network and their development mechanism, and sustainable development of the air transport system are gradually becoming research focuses of international research. In the early stage, China's air transportation research almost kept in the same pace with developed countries but unfortunately lagged behind greatly in the middle stage because of the historical reasons. Recently, more and more scholars have focused in this field with the rapid socio-economic development. Today, Chinese scholars need not only to introduce the fundamental theories since the 1950s and perform case studies, but also to construct the systematic frame of air transportation research. Besides, Chinese scholars are encouraged to constitute the academic framework of air transportation geography and to join in international cooperation.
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